Labor and Delivery Nurse: In-Demand Specialty for Travel Nursing Jobs
Labor and delivery nurses provide care before, during and after delivery to the mother, the unseen fetus, and the newborn after birth. They act as advocates for the patient and their partners, educating them on what is happening and what to expect. They must be able to react and make decisions quickly, be patient and calm, and be able to anticipate and respond appropriately to a host of different situations.
Though the reported number of births in the United States has declined for the fourth year in a row and some rural hospitals have elected to close down their maternity wards, nurses who choose labor and delivery as a specialty have no reason to worry about job security. Many hospitals are investing significant amounts of money to expand their maternity departments or partner with birth centers. The growth in the use of birth centers will also keep demand for labor and delivery nurses high, as will the continuing national nursing shortage. In order to ensure that their labor and delivery rooms are well staffed, facilities will continue to utilize labor and delivery travel nurses.
What is a Labor and Delivery Nurse?
Labor and delivery nurses provide care for expectant mothers before, during and after their delivery. They are also responsible for fetal monitoring and care of the infant immediately after birth. They work with an extremely low patient ratio in order to provide high quality direct patient care and the best possible outcomes, often working one-on-one within a labor and delivery team made up of obstetricians and other support staff. Their responsibilities include direct patient care; constant evaluation of the mother, including monitoring the cervix for dilation and monitoring contractions; monitoring and documenting the status of both mother and fetus including interpreting fetal heart monitor and EKG results; communicating maternal and fetal status to other members of the care team; acting as an advocate for the physical and emotional needs of the mother; and providing education and support to the mother and her support team in the delivery room, including coaching on breathing and pushing through labor; examining the mother and infant after delivery; and helping with recovery after cesarean surgery.
Labor and delivery nurses are most frequently employed in hospital maternity wards, as of the nearly 4 million births that occur in the United States each year, 98% happen in hospitals. Still, the use of birth centers is on the upswing, and there was a 76% increase in the number of freestanding birth centers between 2010 and 2017. That number is expected to increase, and with it will come even more opportunities for skilled labor and delivery nurses.
Labor and Delivery Nurse Education Requirements, Certifications and Professional Groups
Labor and delivery nursing represents a highly specialized skill, but the road to the profession still begins with becoming a licensed Registered Nurse. Though labor and delivery nurse candidates can get jobs in their field with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), many hospitals are now requiring their registered nursing staff to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Nurses with an ADN can anticipate being required to complete a BSN within a limited amount of time after they are hired. With either degree, the candidate must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), which is the requirement for licensure.
Labor and delivery nursing positions generally require a minimum of one year of hands-on nursing experience. Labor and delivery nurses also must be certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Basic Life Support.
Though much of labor and delivery nursing knowledge comes from hands-on experience, there are also continued education programs and certification programs providing specific education on topics including stages of labor, best practices in labor and delivery, and Cesarean section birth and care. The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) offers networking opportunities, resources and events for labor and delivery nurses, as well as courses in other important areas including Post-Birth Warning Signs and Fetal Heart Monitoring. The National Certification Corporation offers labor and delivery nurses the opportunity to become Inpatient Obstetric Nursing certified once they have a minimum of 2000 hours in direct patient care, education, administration, or research.
Labor and Delivery Nurse Salary and Job Growth Potential
A recent survey conducted by ZipRecruiter.com indicated that the average annual pay for a labor and delivery nurse in the United States was $101,258 per year, with salary impacted by a nurse’s years of experience, the degree they hold, geographic region. Compensation is also impacted by the type of facility: academic hospital, birthing center, or a different environment. Labor and delivery nurses can also significantly increase their compensation by volunteering to work on call or overtime, or by signing on for shift differentials.
According to a recent survey, the average annual pay for a labor and delivery nurse in the United States is $101,258 per year.
Labor and delivery is one of the most important areas in the hospital from a public relations standpoint. Though the area is often one of the least profitable in the organization, and can even end up losing money, it is also often the single-most important area of a healthcare system for driving loyalty and future usage. That means hospitals will continue to invest in hiring skilled labor and delivery nurses that offer high quality, one-on-one care to laboring mothers. In order to fill need in the face of the growing nursing shortage, hospitals will turn to travel labor and delivery nurses to ensure that their staff levels are high.
The Pros and Cons of Being a Labor and Delivery Nurse
|Ability to provide direct patient care to women as they expand their families.||Work can be emotionally and physically draining.|
|Work environment is collaborative and often joyful, especially when witnessing the birth of a new infant.||Not every delivery has a positive outcome.|
|Rewarding to use interpersonal skills to provide comfort and assuage fears.||Often witness disturbing patient situations, including addicted parents, unsupportive spouses.|
Nursing as a Labor and Delivery Travel Nurse
Labor and delivery nurses provide high quality care for women during one of the most important and memorable moments of their lives. Labor and delivery nurses work in a fast-paced environment that is one of the most hands-on of all nursing specialties. The job requires calm and empathy and exposes them every day to one life’s most profound experiences. Labor and delivery travel nurses can add to the excitement of their jobs by choosing and changing the locations where they work on a regular basis, while they also enjoy the benefits of the higher compensation and perks that come with travel nursing.