The NICU is a very busy place. The babies need constant checking and 24-hour care from different health care providers.
What kinds of health care providers work in a NICU?
Here’s a list of NICU staff and what they do. Some or all of these people may be part of the NICU team at your hospital:
-Charge nurse – A nurse who makes sure that the NICU runs well. He or she is in charge of staffing the NICU, and coordinating the admission and discharge of babies.
Clinical nurse specialist – Also called CNS. A nurse who has special training in the care of children and their families. The CNS provides support and teaches parents about what is going on with their baby. He or she also is involved in nursing staff education.
-Neonatal nurse practitioner – Also called NNP. A nurse with special nursing and medical training in caring for sick and premature babies. This type of nurse works with the baby’s neonatologist and medical team, and can do medical procedures, prescribe medicines and care for the baby.
-Neonatologist – A pediatrician (children’s doctor) with special medical training in the care of sick newborns. There may be more than one neonatologist in the NICU.
-Neonatology fellow – A fully trained pediatrician who is getting special medical training in the care of sick newborns.
-Neonatal physician assistant – Also called PA. A physician assistant who has special medical training in working with premature and sick newborns. He or she works with the neonatologist, performs medical procedures and directs the baby’s care.
-Occupational therapist – Also called OT. A health care provider who helps figure out how well the baby is feeding and swallowing.
-Patient care assistant – Also called PCA. A NICU staff member who helps nurses do things, like changing bed sheets, feeding babies and preparing bottles.
-Pediatric resident – A doctor who is getting medical training in baby and child health.
-Pharmacist – A person with special training in how medicines work and the side effects they may cause. You get prescription medicine from the pharmacist.
-Physical therapist – Also called PT. A health care provider who helps figure out how well the baby moves. They look at any problems the baby has moving and how that might affect things like sitting, rolling over or walking.
-Registered dietitian – Also called RD. A health care provider who is trained as an expert in nutrition. They work with the NICU doctors and nurses to help make sure the baby is getting all the nutrients she needs.
-Registered nurse – A health care provider who has a nursing degree. In the NICU, a registered nurse will have special training in caring for sick newborns.
-Respiratory therapist – Also called RT. A health care provider trained to care for babies with breathing problems. They are trained to use the medical equipment needed to care for the baby’s breathing.
-Social worker – A person who is trained to help families cope with their baby’s NICU stay. The social worker can help families get information from their baby’s provider, provide information on their baby’s medical problems, provide emotional support, help navigate insurance and help plan for when their baby comes home.
-Speech and language therapist – A person who is trained to help people with speech and language problems. In the NICU, they often help newborns with feeding problems.
-Technician – Hospital staff who does things like drawing blood or taking X-rays.
All of these health professionals are part of a team that is working to help your baby get stronger and help you cope while your baby is in the NICU. You are an important member of this team. It’s okay to ask questions and get help.