To help you become familiar with the people caring for your baby, we've listed titles and descriptions of your NICU staff below.
Use this as a general guideline. Your hospital may have fewer or more members on their NICU staff.
- Neonatologist: A pediatrician (children's doctor) with advanced training in the area of intensive care newborn medicine. You may find that the neonatologist in charge of the NICU unit will change. These doctors may work on a rotating basis. The neonatologist in charge is called the "attending" doctor. Your baby may have one attending doctor during the day and a different one at night.
- Fellow: A fully trained and experienced pediatric (children's) doctor who is training to become a neonatologist.
- Resident: A medical doctor who is specializing in pediatrics (children's medicine). The residents are actively involved in your baby's care and are a good resource for information.
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: A nurse who has completed an advanced educational program in neonatology and works under the direction of the neonatologist.
- NICU Nurses: Your baby will have one or more nurses assigned to each shift. Shifts may vary between eight and twelve hours. The nurses try to care for the same babies when they work.
- Primary Nurse: The primary nurse plans your baby's nursing care and is responsible for getting to know you and your baby, and any special needs you may have. The primary nurse's name is often written on your baby's name card which hangs above the crib. This nurse is the nurse most intimately acquainted with your baby's needs and will guide your baby's individualized plan of care.
- Respiratory Therapists: Respiratory therapists are specially trained to care for patients with breathing difficulties. They also are experts on the medical equipment used to treat these types of problems. Respiratory therapists are available in the NICU 24 hours a day. If your baby is having any type of breathing difficulty, you will often see the respiratory therapist at her bedside. They would be happy to answer your questions regarding your baby's lungs.
- Newborn Unit Social Worker: If your hospital has a social worker, you may find them to be a great support for your family. They can also help arrange for housing, transportation, and meals; clarify hospital policies and procedures; alert the attending doctor or fellow of your questions and concerns; identify resources such as parent groups, reading materials, and computer resources; and assist in planning your baby's follow-up care at the time of discharge. Some hospitals have space that allows a parent to stay with his or her baby. The social worker will explain what accommodations are available so that you can stay as physically close to your baby as possible.
- Other Caregivers: Depending on your baby's needs, she may require the care of other specialized doctors. They will be introduced to you, if necessary for your baby's care. While this may seem like a lot of information to process, you'll soon learn and become comfortable with the NICU routine.