A NICU is an extremely busy place and there are many professionals working together to provide care for your baby. To help get you acquainted, here are some of the staff members you're likely to meet during your baby’s stay in a NICU.
The Medical Team
- Neonatologist: Specialist doctor with advanced training in newborn intensive care. There may be several neonatologists in the NICU who are all responsible for the overall medical management of the babies. Neonatologists may follow some babies until one year of age or beyond.
- Neonatal Fellow: Paediatrician who is currently undertaking specialised training that is required to become a neonatologist.
- Registrar: Qualified doctor learning the specialty of neonatology. In a NICU, they may be from paediatrics, intensive care or anaesthetics. They work a roster, so you may meet different registrars on different days or nights. They are responsible for ensuring that the day-to-day review of your baby is carried out and discussed with the team. They are always supervised and supported by a fellow and/or consultant neonatologist.
- Resident: Junior doctor who is receiving training to be a Paediatrician, general practitioner or specialist.
- Paediatrician: Specialist doctor who provides medical care to infants, children and adolescents. Babies who need intensive care may be transferred to a Paediatrician for follow on care when they go home from hospital.
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP): Registered nurse with specialised training in newborn intensive care. They work under the direction of the neonatologist and nursing unit manager, and provide holistic care for your baby. Their role is similar to a registrar with advanced nursing skills as well.
- Nurse Unit Manager (NUM): Senior nurse who takes care of the management of staff and babies.
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): Senior nurse who will often be in charge on certain shifts. Their responsibilities are part clinical and part managerial.
- Registered Nurse (RN): The nurses who will most frequently look after your baby and teach you to care for him or her. They work as a team and are of different levels of training and experience.
- Nurse Educator/ Clinical Nurse Educator: Provide an educational service for all nursing staff on the unit, as well as for those who are planning a career in nursing and on a rotating university placement within the NICU.
- Clinical Nurse Consultant (CNC): Specialist in the care provided in the NICU. CNCs work with clinicians to develop and improve service standards and are also widely involved in policy development, safety and quality.
- Lactation Consultant: Health provider who offers support and help to resolve breastfeeding or lactation problems, such as a low supply or oversupply of milk, expressing, attachment issues, nipple trauma and prematurity.
- Clinic Research & Audit Nurse: Provides support regarding data collection and analysis, and collects important information on babies in the NICU. The provision of this information allows consistent practice across all units and promotes continual practice improvement.
The Allied Health Team
- Social Worker: Practitioner who helps families cope with the emotional aspects of having a premature or sick newborn. They are also able to assist with practical issues such as outside support resources and health interpreter services. They routinely make contact with families who have a baby in the NICU. If you wish to see a social worker, ask your nurse to contact them. They are also available after hours and weekends.
- Dietician: Provides nutritional support and advice in the NICU and makes sure your baby is getting all the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong.
- Occupational Therapist: Specialist in baby development and how movement problems may affect milestones. Their role can include evaluating your baby’s readiness for stimulation and social interaction; providing developmental assessments; and educating parents/carers on positioning for play, feeding, sleeping and bathing. You may encounter this person either in the NICU or in a follow-up clinic.
- Physiotherapist: Specialist in assessing and helping muscle tone and movement problems, bone problems and chest care. You may encounter this person either in the NICU or in a follow-up clinic.
- Speech Therapist: Specialist in speech, language, swallowing and feeding. They often work within the NICU on feeding problems like sucking and swallowing.
Other Medical Specialists
- Cardiothoracic Surgeon: Specialist in performing surgery on the heart and chest.
- Cardiologist: Specialist in the structure, function and disorders of the heart.
- Gastroenterologist: Specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive system disorders, including the oesophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver, gall bladder and anus.
- Haematologist: Specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders and issues with blood-forming organs.
- Hearing Screener: Will test your baby’s hearing before going home.
- Radiographers: Specialist in taking X-rays of your baby. They may perform ultrasound examinations and interpret these if required.
- Nephrologist: Specialist in the structure, function and disorders of the kidneys.
- Neurologist: Specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system.
- Neurosurgeon: Specialist in surgery of the nervous system, including the brain.
- Ophthalmologist: Specialist in the structure, function, diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders.
- Orthopaedic surgeon: Specialist in the structure, function and treatment of disorders of bones, joints and ligaments.
- Otolaryngologist: Specialist in the structure, function and disorders of the ear, nose and throat.
- Paediatric Surgeon: Specialist in performing general surgery for newborns and children up to late teens.
- Pulmonologist: Specialist in the structure, function and disorders of the respiratory system.
- Urologist: Specialist in the structure, function and disorders of the urinary tract.
Other Hospital Staff
- Administrative staff: This team of professionals includes ward clerks and secretaries; they ensure the smooth running of the administrative side of a NICU.
- Hospital Chaplain: Hospital-based religious support person. A variety of personnel attend from many denominations.
- ‘Housekeeping’ Staff: Keep the NICU clean and tidy for the benefit of your baby.