Neonatal nursing: an unmet challenge in India

Indian J Pediatr. 2014 Nov;81(11):1205-11. doi: 10.1007/s12098-014-1567-4. Epub 2014 Oct 4.


Nurses comprise a key component to maternal and newborn health care delivery, including the care of 'at-risk' or sick newborns. However, the efficiency and effectiveness of services rely heavily on adequate numbers of highly skilled neonatal nurses. Currently, in India, a significant shortage of trained nurses in the field of newborn care is contributing to poor neonatal outcomes. Specifically, nurses caring for newborns lack the competency and experience needed to ensure optimal care. This deficiency has been linked to a lack of expert faculty, standardized training and minimal or no exposures to newborn clinical care areas during pre service education. Moreover, in addition to a lack of operational research in the area, nurses who provide care for newborns are often faced with numerous system related issues that impede their ability to provide optimal care. Most notably, frequent changes of work place, poor wages, and lack of continuing education, skill maintenance, recognition, and collaborative team culture further compromise the nursing care. All these lead to poor motivation and competency. To meet this challenge, it is essential that emphasis be placed on the identification and support of nursing faculty with expertise in newborn and neonatal care who are able to ensure that nurses receive standardized education for pre-service, in-service and ongoing care. In addition, importance should be placed on encouraging newborn nursing research as well as on governmental increases in salary compensation. Lastly, given the shortage of physicians to take care of sick neonates in remote areas, the creation of a cadre of Neonatal nurse practitioner/ advanced practice nurses would be an invaluable solution in developing countries. Furthermore, centralized oversight of newborn education and training would be best served, if responsibility was placed with Reproductive maternal newborn child health (RMNCH) workers and district level officers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Nursing
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • India
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Nursing*
  • Nurses / supply & distribution