Staff in the NICU
There are several people who may work together in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to help you and your baby. These people are all highly trained to work with babies who need specialized medical care. Below is a brief list of NICU staff members and what they do. The types of staff and their titles differ with each NICU, so you might not see all the people listed here.
Neonatologist / Intensivist: a doctor with special training to treat babies who have medical problems. This doctor will oversee your baby’s care but may consult with other types of doctors based on your baby’s needs.
Neonatal Advanced Practitioner: this person is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP), an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) or a Physician’s Assistant (PA) who has pursued further education and training in order to provide special medical care for your baby and works under the supervision of your baby’s doctor.
Nurse: the types of nurses and their functions vary within each NICU. Bedside nurses are trained to care for babies in the NICU and will be involved in the daily care of your baby. Nurses will perform tasks such as bathing, feeding, checking vital signs, and giving medicines. They can answer questions about your baby and will show you how you may help in your baby’s care.
Respiratory Therapist: this person helps with lung and/or breathing problems, and with care that involves a ventilator, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) or oxygen.
Case Manager: this person helps manage many aspects of your baby’s care and long-term needs. A case manager often is trained in social work and can help connect you with resources you may need along the way, such as home medical supplies and services to help with learning, motor skills, growth, and counseling. Financial concerns also can be discussed with a case manager.
Other types of doctors: based on your baby’s special needs, he or she may be seen by doctors who focus on certain body systems and/or functions. These types of doctors and their focus include:
• Cardiologist – the heart and structures that connect with it.
• Developmental Pediatrician – the growth, learning and emotional health needs of infants and children.
• Endocrinologist – the endocrine system (many glands throughout the body that produce hormones).
• Gastroenterologist – the organs involved with digestion, such as the stomach, intestines and gall bladder.
• Geneticist – the health or physical problems that are passed through families.
• Infectious Disease Specialist – infections that may affect the baby’s well-being.
• Nephrologist – the kidneys and structures that connect with them.
• Neurologist – the nervous system, including the brain.
• Ophthalmologist – the eyes.
• Pulmonologist – the lungs and structures involving breathing.
• Radiologist – reads x-rays and image scans to help diagnose and treat medical problems.
• Surgeon — there are many types of surgeons, each type focuses on certain body systems and performs invasive surgeries.
Others who may be involved in your baby’s care and attend to your family’s needs include:
• Hearing screener: this person may test your baby’s hearing using audiological technology known as the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test.
• Social worker: this person has special training to help patients who are distressed and/or who need help with non-medical problems. Having a baby in the NICU is a stressful time for any parent; having someone to talk with may be helpful.
• Dietitian: this professional focuses on special nutrition needs your baby may have.
• Lactation consultant: this person is a health care provider with special training in breastfeeding issues, such as the unique challenges that may occur when breastfeeding premature babies.
YOU are a vital partner in your baby’s care. Our NICU team is here to take good care of you, your baby, and your family members. As a parent, you are a vital member of the care team. We encourage you to take an active role in your baby’s care by asking questions and learning what you can do to help your infant.