Who works in the NICU?


There are many people who 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:  are medical doctors who have had 4 years of medical school. Three years of residency training in general pediatrics. Three years of additional training in neonatal intensive care. They are board certified (eligible) in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: this person is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP),  who has pursued further education and training in order to provide special medical care for your baby and who 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.  ALS nurses are trained to attend deliveries and do various procedures.

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.

Neonatal Therapist: consist of occupational therapist and physical therapist,  who provides direct patient care and consultative services for the premature and medically complex infants in the NICU. They assess and address each individual patient’s needs. They are trained to identify and treat developmental problems. They help create an environment that promotes healthy development and growth.

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.

Social worker: this person has special training to help families 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.

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.

• Dietitian: this professional focuses on special nutrition needs your baby may have.

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.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a health care professional if you have any questions about the health of your baby.