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Learning About the Staff in the NICU

Who works in the NICU?

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is the part of the hospital where premature or sick newborns get care. The NICU staff is a team of specially trained doctors, nurses, and support staff. Their job is to give your baby the best medical care possible.

The staff members know what you're going through. You'll work closely with them while your baby is in the NICU. And you may get to know many of them quite well.

The NICU can seem like a crowded place. At different times during your baby's stay, 10 or more staff members may be on hand to help your baby.

Here are some of the people who work in the NICU.

  • A neonatologist is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of newborns. He or she directs your baby's care.
  • A neonatal nurse practitioner is a nurse with advanced training in the care of newborns.
  • Specialists are doctors who focus on certain areas of medicine. For example, your baby's doctor may get help from a cardiologist for treating a heart problem.
  • Nurses care for your baby day by day. They bathe and change your baby and watch your baby's vital signs. The nurses are also your teachers. As your baby gets stronger, they'll show you how to take over many daily tasks. Often parents grow very close to their NICU nurses.

The doctors and nurses rely on a support staff.

  • Respiratory therapists help treat any breathing problems your baby may have.
  • Technicians operate some of the equipment in the NICU. This may include X-ray machines, ventilators, and feeding equipment.
  • The pharmacist prepares your baby's medicines.
  • The social worker helps you while others help your baby. He or she is your guide to the NICU. The social worker helps you understand how the NICU works and handles discharge planning when your baby is ready to go home. He or she can also help if you have disagreements with any members of the NICU staff.
  • Most hospitals have a chaplain or spiritual adviser available.
  • The NICU clerk is the administrative assistant for the unit. He or she keeps track of everything that goes on in the NICU. This person can be a great contact for you.

While the staff gives medical care, you are there to give your baby the things you can give best: love, cuddling, breast milk, and more. You also make the decisions about your baby's care. The staff knows that this is all new to you. They expect you to have questions and will do their best to answer them.

What can you expect?

  • You'll often come to the NICU and find different people working there. This is normal. Nurses and doctors go on and off duty with shift changes. Doctors and specialists may change as they care for other babies in the NICU. Your baby will always be in good hands. Doctors and nurses get updated on your baby's condition when they come on shift.
  • It's hard to be apart from your baby, especially when you worry about his or her condition. Know that the hospital staff is well prepared to care for babies with this condition. They will do everything they can to help. If you need it, ask for support from friends and family. You can also ask the hospital staff about counselling and support.

Where can you learn more?

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