The personnel in the NICU and SCN are exactly the people you want caring for your child.
Your baby will be cared for by a team of well-trained, diversely skilled staff members — any of whom will be glad to answer your questions at any time. Don't hesitate to ask your caregivers questions. You need to know them, trust them, and work with them in caring for your baby.
It’s natural to feel anxious about all the people responsible for the health and care of your baby. But be assured — the personnel in the NICU and SCN are exactly the people you want caring for your child right now. They each have a specialized job to do, and they work as a team to provide complete care for your baby.
And, of course, YOU are at the center of this team. In time, you may all begin to feel like part of an extended family. It may be difficult at first to figure out who everyone is and the role they play in your newborn’s care. The following describe some of your baby’s most common caregivers.
- Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) and physician assistants (PAs). These providers work in the NICU or SCN and have advanced training in the care of newborn babies — especially babies who are ill, premature, or at high risk for complications. NNPs and PAs work closely with your baby’s doctors.
- Registered Nurses (RNs). These providers, often referred to as staff nurses, are the caregivers you'll see most during your baby’s stay in the NICU and SCN. They have been specially trained to care for babies like yours and will deliver the care your baby's doctor orders. Staff nurses closely monitor your baby and usually have the most recent information about your baby’s progress. They can answer many of your questions and show you what care you can give your baby when you visit him in the hospital.
- A charge nurse (sometimes called a shift coordinator). This nurse has the same special training in infant care as the staff nurses and oversees nursing care during a particular working shift in the NICU or SCN. They assign care tasks to staff nurses and help resolve problems. The charge nurse also coordinates the flow of patients in and out of the unit.
- Nursing directors and nursing managers. These professionals supervise all nurses and clerks in the NICU or SCN. If you have a problem that can’t be solved by speaking with other nursing staff, ask to speak to the nursing director.
In addition to the doctors and nursing staff, there are a variety of other specialized professionals involved in your baby’s care.
- Patient care technician (PCT). Under a nurse's supervision, a PCT provides for your baby’s basic needs and reports on his condition to the nurse.
- Unit clerks or health unit coordinators. These secretaries at the front desk of the NICU or SCN are responsible for answering general questions and screening visitors, and they can be a valuable source of information about your resources at the NICU or SCN.
- Medical social workers. These professionals are trained to listen to your concerns and can help you make arrangements for lodging, insurance, and home healthcare. They can also provide support for grieving families.
- Respiratory therapists. These healthcare professionals are trained in the care of your baby’s lungs. They work with infants with breathing problems and help manage the equipment that helps your baby breathe.
- Pharmacist. This is a professional who specializes in preparing and delivering medicines.
- Developmental team. This group may include physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists who can help your baby with movement, feeding, and other developmental issues.
- Registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). This person is a healthcare professional with special knowledge about the nutrients needed for an infant’s proper growth and development.
- Lactation consultant. This healthcare provider has advanced training and certification in breastfeeding management. In the NICU and SCN, the lactation consultant is available to help nursing mothers establish and maintain a milk supply (by pumping) until the baby is ready to breastfeed. The consultant then helps mothers with the actual skill of breastfeeding.
- Parent support coordinators. These are staff members who once had a baby cared for in the NICU or SCN. They can provide information, practical suggestions, and emotional support. They may also coordinate sibling hours and parent luncheons.
- Case managers (also called discharge coordinators). These staff members help you plan to go home. They help you understand the equipment you will take home and any home care or hospice support you might need. They can also help with your insurance.
- Clergy. Representatives from various faiths can support you during this time.
- Other professionals. This group may include a hearing specialist, wound care specialist, enterostomal [en-tuh-ros-TOH-muhl] specialist (someone who helps with care for a baby needing a colostomy), or car seat squad.
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