Has anyone asked you what you do for a living? When you share that you work in a NICU, most people don’t understand. You clarify by saying, “I care for the small baby”. They frequently say something back like: “I don’t know how you do that” or “that’s a tough job” or “that’s amazing”. All seem like reasonable responses.
The NICU is a unique place to work. Every team member knows that it’s a place unfamiliar to most, where babies and families experience things they never dreamed of. Some babies stay in the NICU a few, nevertheless stressful, days. Other babies such as a VLBW or especially ELBW baby, may remain in the NICU for months. The small baby faces many challenges in the NICU, including growing and developing in an unnatural environment.
Acknowledging these developmental needs, NICU caregivers protect and advocate for babies and their families every day. Often the baby’s language is silent and we learn to listen to their physiologic and behavior language. This expertise reflects our deep commitment to improving the quality, safety and value of the care we provide. We protect them from experiences that are adverse to their neuro-development because we understand that everything we do can contribute to their well-being and future. When we know and understand that every touch and care we provide can change their outcome, we begin to do it differently.
Today’s healthcare has increased demands. At times it can be easy to lose the purpose and vision for what we do. As individuals and teams do we take time to reflect on our own personal vision and purpose? How can we, as caring professionals, continue to engage, grow and thrive in the NICU?
How do we as professionals engage in our environment, build relationships and partnerships with parents and babies we care for? How can we help the small baby engage with its environment in ways that protects them rather than an environment they have to fight off? Do we empower families and support and nurture the relationship with their infant?
How do we as professionals continue to grow in our expertise with the challenges in healthcare? Do we believe that we are life-long learners? Do we understand healthcare changes daily and that we need to learn to grow with it. Are we promote evidenced based or best practice and continuous quality improvement? How can we support physical and neuro-developmental growth in the small baby and encourage parents to provide care only they can provide to help their baby grow stronger physically and emotionally (Skin to Skin, Mothers Own Milk)?
How do we as professionals learn to thrive together as teams, to support each other, learn from one another, and recognize how our roles complement each other? The care we provide as individuals makes a difference in the outcomes for each baby. The care we can achieve as a team of caring professionals is priceless.
Do we encourage healthy relationships among team members so we can support the small baby and their families to thrive in the NICU and more importantly thrive in life?
Small Baby Care Specialist® (SBCS)
Are you passionate about improving care and outcomes for premature babies? A program is coming this fall called the Small Baby Care Specialist® (SBCS). For more information connect at our Small Baby Care Specialist Program page.