Does a career working with the tiniest infants appeal to you? Working as a neonatal nurse is celebrated today and is an excellent time to find out more about this branch of nursing.
Spearheaded by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses, (NANN), Neonatal Nurses Day is marked around the country on September 15 and honors those nurses who work with newborns. Typically, these nurses are working in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) helping babies who have illnesses or health problems right after birth. Neonatal nurses might also care for older babies if their health condition necessitates longer-term care.
Neonatal nurses will care for infants who are born full-term and those who are born prematurely, sometimes months early. The babies might also have been born with a genetic condition or birth defects or who may have developed an infection.
Because the babies are in such fragile health, a neonatal nurse will call on a range of skills and will require excellent critical thinking and decision making. Working in an environment where a baby’s condition can change rapidly, neonatal nurses must cultivate a steady approach and devote time and effort to developing excellent interpersonal and teamwork skills.
An integral part of what is generally a large team of nurses, physicians, specialists, social workers, and staff, the neonatal nurse’s role is defined, but requires an awareness of how all the different parts operate as a team. Newborns under the care of a neonatal nurse often have complex conditions and their age and oftentimes underdeveloped body systems put them at risk for additional complications.
Families are a big part of neonatal care. Parents, extended family, and friends are anxious about the baby and the unfamiliar equipment and setting only heightens that anxiety. A neonatal nurse also works with families and must be able to do so in the face of all kinds of outcomes.
The impact neonatal nurses make on the infant in their care and the infants’ families often links them for life. Families depend on nurses to provide care and also to fill them in on treatments, procedures, facts, and tell them what’s going on in a manner they can understand when they are coping with so much stress. As a neonatal nurse, you’ll develop strong bonds that will make the babies as memorable to you as you are to them.
And as medical advances progress at a rapid rate, it’s imperative that neonatal nurses are lifelong learners who will continue to gather information, knowledge, and get certified. They need to understand the developmental variations of these babies to help inform treatment and care.
If you’re a neonatal nurse, take today to reflect on the way you change the lives of the babies you care for and how you are an important partner with their families. If a neonatal nurse has been a big part of your life, be sure to celebrate the job they do in this inspiring career.