The Neonatology Program at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has seen many changes in the past several years. One notable change is the increase in the number of neonatal nurse practitioners now participating in patient care in both the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Newborn Progressive Care Unit.
A neonatal nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has an advanced degree and special training in the care of premature and critically ill newborns. When I first started as a new NNP at Children Hospital four years ago, there were only five NNPs. Now we have 15 practicing NNPs. NNPs are involved in a wide variety of infant care activities in the delivery room, on admission and at discharge, including performing procedures and participating in daily clinical management. My fellow NNPs and I strive to deliver the highest quality care that exceeds what patients can get anywhere else.
Helping families through a rollercoaster of emotions
In the NICU and NPCU, the road from admission to discharge is often a long one, and may be unexpected for some parents. When an infant is born prematurely or with health issues that necessitate a stay in the NICU, parents often are overwhelmed with feelings of fear and anxiety.
These initial days and weeks are very scary for parents as the infants go through the acute phase of illness or prematurity. Parents often experience a rollercoaster of emotions through the good days and bad. The NNPs at Children’s Hospital help families cope during this time. We listen to parents, encourage them to bond with their infant, facilitate parental involvement in decision making and explain medical and nursing care.
Once the infant is stable, they may be transferred to the NPCU. This unit is entirely managed by the NNPs and the attending neonatologist. It is in this unit that special things really start to happen as infants and parents work together toward discharge. Parents partner with nurses, NNPs and physicians, and learn to perform all the care the baby needs at home. They become more confident in caring for their infant.
My favorite day working as an NNP is discharge day. Often it is bittersweet to say goodbye to patients and parents with whom we have developed respectful and trusting relationships. But witnessing the joy and excitement as parents finally take their infant home is what I cherish most as an NNP.
Join our March for Babies
As we look forward to the Milwaukee March for Babies on Saturday, April 27, we invite all of you to join our team to show support for improving the care of babies and their families everywhere.
- Rebecca Buchholtz, MSN, RN, NNP-BC, APNP
The NICU at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin provides state-of-the-art care for more than 700 infants each year. Parents magazine ranked our preemie and newborn care #1 in the nation in its 2013 Best Children’s Hospitals survey.