Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

The Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) DNP Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Nursing (CON) was developed to educate and prepare advanced practice neonatal nurses to manage and care for the ill neonate, as well as partner with their families to improve outcomes using the foundation of Patient and Family-Centered Care within Advanced Practice Nursing Education. This program is highly specialized and clinically focused in order to provide comprehensive, hands-on, culturally competent, as well as evidence-based care.

Students in the NNP program at UIC will explore evidenced-based practice, interprofessional collaboration, quality, safety, health technology, and health policy. They will be guided through their specialty courses by board-certified NNP faculty who offer more than 90 combined years of experience in NICU nursing, as well as nearly 65 combined years as advanced practice nurses.  Graduates of UIC’s NNP/DNP program are prepared for the direct care role as a NNP, as well as uniquely prepared to lead clinical programs that improve outcomes for high-risk infants and families, particularly those in community-based referral centers serving rural and medically underserved areas.

DNP NNP Program Requirements

The NNP/DNP concentration consists of 84 hours of course work in a hybrid environment that includes online, blended, and on-campus courses (available at our regional campuses in Chicago, Peoria, Quad Cities, Rockford, or Urbana). It requires 1000 hours of clinical practica; approximately 600 of the required clinical hours are in the NNP clinical specialty. Clinical practica are arranged at Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Units with experienced NNP preceptors.

The DNP program at UIC includes a combination of DNP core courses, clinical science core courses, and DNP practicum/project courses.

In addition to the DNP courses, the NNP concentration includes the following six didactic courses which are offered primarily on-line.

NUSP 560 Advanced Neonatal Management I: The High Risk Neonate. Focuses on the unique advanced nursing care needs of this population and the neurodevelopmental challenges and vulnerabilities of these high risk infants while emphasizing patient and family centered care practices that enhance outcomes.

NUSP 561 Advanced Neonatal Management II: The Acutely Ill Infant.  Focuses on the assessment, stabilization and theoretical management of acutely ill infants with common problems associated with prematurity while emphasizing the development of the parent care partnership.

NUSP 562 Advanced Neonatal Management III: The Gravely Ill Infant.  Focuses on complex disturbances, alterations and multi-organ interactions of the cardiopulmonary, neuromuscular, neurosurgical, renal, and gastrointestinal systems, while fostering and supporting the parent partnership in the gravely ill infant’s care.

NUSP 563 Essentials of Patient and Family Centered Care.  Analysis of theoretical and research components of socio-culturally appropriate patient and family centered care and its impact on patients, families, health delivery, and outcomes.

NUPR 574 Advanced Neonatal Nursing Clinical Practicum. Incorporating the principles of Patient and Family Centered Care, the student will assess, stabilize, and manage infants with common to complex disturbances, physiologic alterations and multi-organ system dysfunction while addressing their unique neurodevelopmental needs and vulnerabilities, in partnership with the parents.

DNP/NNP Program Brochure (download)

Graduating DNP NNP students will be eligible to take the National Certification Corporation (NCC) Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Certification Examination. For more information on NCC Certification, please visit

Students who are interested in learning more about the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) Advanced Practice Competencies and Educational Curricula, please visit  

Program Faculty-Department of Women, Children and Family Health Sciences (WCFHS)

Mary Puchalski, DNP, APN, CNS, NNP-BC
Clinical Assistant Professor
Director, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program

Phone: 312.996.7929
Dr. Puchalski is an experienced educator and NNP. Joining the UIC faculty in 2015, she has been an advanced practice nurse since 1999. Her background includes extensive work with the internationally known neonatal education program, The S.T.A.B.L.E. Program, developing their on-screen presentation materials. She also contributed to the development of the N-PASS (Neonatal Pain, Agitation, and Sedation Scale).

Terri Russell, DNP, APN, NNP-BC
Clinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Terri Russell is a highly regarded neonatal nurse practitioner with a wide range of experience in clinical and academic practice in the Chicago area. She enjoys all aspects of neonatal care, but has a special interest in hyperbilirubinemia. Her accomplishments not only include authorship of a book chapter on the topic and the National Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioner's liaison to the American Academy of Pediatrics subcommittee that is currently revising their hyperbilirubinemia practice guideline, but also numerous presentations on various neonatal topics at both local and national conferences.

Amanda Bennett, DNP, APN, PNP, NNP-BC
Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Bennett has worked full-time as an NNP for nearly three decades in various NICUs throughout the Midwest. She has a special interest in neonatal IV therapy and developed an evidenced-based clinical pathway to decrease the number of IV attempts in the NICU patient for her DNP project. Dr. Bennett enjoys mentoring new NNPs, as well as providing education through participation in both local and national neonatal conferences.