OB Nurse Job Description
Often working in women’s health centers, hospitals, and doctors’ offices, OB nurses provide care for expectant women to ensure both the mother’s and baby’s health. These obstetric specialists are experienced registered nurses who help women through labor, provide initial care to newborns, and offer patient education. The abilities to think critically and handle emergencies help an OB nurse provide safe and effective care. While OB nurses working in offices with regular business hours have more stable schedules, those working at hospitals and birthing centers work rotating hours as necessary.
OB Nurse Duties and Responsibilities
Specific job duties for OB nurses vary based on their employer. However, there are several core tasks common to all OB nurses, such as:
Give Physical Exams
OB nurses provide pregnant women with physical exams to monitor the mother’s and baby’s health. This includes checking vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate, performing ultrasounds, and checking the cervix for dilation and any potential problems.
Assist with Labor and Delivery
When women enter labor, OB nurses may work alongside physicians to coach the mother through contractions and guide her to deliver the baby. They respond to any emergencies and provide care to the newborn as soon as it’s born, which includes weighing it and checking how well it breathes.
Provide Post-Delivery Care
The job of an OB nurse doesn’t end once the baby is born, as this professional helps the mother through the initial recovery process and continues to monitor the baby’s health. For example, if a mother needed an incision or had a cesarean section, then the OB nurse may check how the scars heal and provide bandages and dressings.
Educating patients on how to take care of themselves and their babies requires OB nurses to offer coaching on topics like birth control, breastfeeding, and infant caretaking. They address any concerns patients have and consult with doctors and other specialists to provide accurate information.
Handle Record Keeping
Like other registered nurses, OB nurses update patients’ charts with information gathered through physical exams and make any changes to patient care plans under a doctor’s supervision.
OB Nurse Skills and Qualifications
OB nurses need a diploma or degree in nursing along with an active nursing license. Employers prefer at least a year of nursing experience, particularly working with pregnant women. These specialized nurses also need to provide compassionate care and understand best practices for taking care of women and babies during and after pregnancy. Employers often look for OB nurses with the following abilities and skills:
- Medical assessment – OB nurses use their knowledge and medical equipment to properly assess women and babies to check vital signs and detect potential health issues
- Patient care – offering pregnancy and post-partum medical advice, giving medications and fluids, monitoring newborns, and treating wounds require OB nurses to have experience providing specialized patient care for women and babies
- Stress management – when emergencies occur during or after the delivery process, OB nurses must stay calm and assist doctors to protect the mother and child
- Critical thinking – OB nurses have to make important decisions about how to best care for patients and offer the best advice to help new mothers take care of their children
- Communication skills – whether recording patient data in a chart or communicating with a pharmacy to get the correct medication, OB nurses must communicate clearly and accurately to prevent potentially harmful mistakes
Tools of the Trade
OB nurses often use these tools on the job:
- Health monitoring equipment (ultrasound machines, stethoscopes, blood pressure monitors)
- Electronic medical records systems (CureMD, GE Healthcare, Allscripts)
OB Nurse Education and Training
OB nurses usually complete a nursing diploma, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree program to qualify for a state RN license. These programs take between two and four years to complete and cover topics such as anatomy, nutrition, healthcare practice, professional research, and nursing leadership. Nursing students also gain clinical experience in different settings as part of the curriculum. After graduation, prospective nurses complete the National Council Licensure Examination to get an RN license.
Those who want to specialize in obstetrics usually gain some initial RN work experience and pursue certification, such as the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing credential from the National Certification Corporation, once they meet experience requirements. Some OB nurses pursue a Master of Science in nursing with an obstetrics concentration to advance their careers and gain specialized knowledge.
OB Nurse Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses, including OB specialists, make a median yearly salary of $70,000. OB nurses in the 10th percentile earn about $49,000, while the highest paid earn over $104,000 a year. Medical facilities often provide nurses with comprehensive health, vision, and dental insurance plans, along with professional development, retirement plans, bonuses, and paid time off. Some large healthcare facilities offer discounts on prescriptions and fitness memberships.
Does working as an OB nurse sound right for you? Here are some resources to explore the nursing industry and learn more about becoming an effective OB nurse:
Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses – this professional association serves as a source for news, certification, continuing education, and community for OB nurses. Nurses get access to professional journals and local events to share knowledge and meet others in the women’s health field
Launching Your Career in Nursing and Midwifery: A Practical Guide – drawing on her background in nursing and employment, author Annabel Smoker gives aspiring nurses advice on what to expect during and after the job hunt. This guide advises nurse on how to find their first jobs, seek continuing education, and plan to build their careers
TheRNNetwork.org – Nursing Careers – this LinkedIn group of over 36,000 nursing professionals provides a place to network, find job and salary information, and learn from other nurses
Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing & Healthcare: A Guide to Best Practice – focusing on how to use professional research to improve how nurses evaluate and treat patients, this guide sets nurses up with the skills needed to use new findings to improve patient care throughout their careers
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