We encounter our patients in the first moments of life with all of its promise and potential.
We sometimes have the heartbreaking privilege of caring for these tiny patients as their life ends.
We care for sick and critically ill infants, and we care for their families.
We constantly balance high-level technical skills and quick critical thinking with compassion and care.
Neonatal nurses have to be creative and persistent to adapt equipment and supplies designed for adults or older children to babies smaller than the IV pumps surrounding their isolettes.
We have to create and sustain an environment to match a baby’s gestational age. While we deliver lifesaving medications and therapies, we have to do all we can to foster the infant’s development in order to maximize their potential.
Neonatal nurses know how to excel as part of a team. We support each other and the myriad of other healthcare professionals who work with our patients and their families.
Fortunately, neonatal nurses are passionate about their profession! It is that passion that supports us through the tough times and empowers us to celebrate the successes. It is always a good day when a “NICU grad” comes back to visit the staff. Then, we see the results of all our efforts and expertise.
Unfortunately, neonatal nurses are in high demand in the United States. According to the WHO, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of premature birth and neonatal death among the world’s developed nations.
Within the U.S, Georgia is ranked No. # 27 in percent of premature births and gets a grade of “D” from the MOD’s Prematurity Campaign, which aims to reduce pre-term births to 8.1 percent by 2020. Of the five major cities in Georgia, Augusta ranks fourth – with a preterm birth rate of 12.6 percent in 2013.
While some premature births are unavoidable, many are. Through education, better access to health care, better nutrition and lifestyle options, and community support, we can decrease the overall rate of premature births. This takes action at every level from legislative to personal.
Maybe one day, we will have a waiting list for neonatal nurses and other professionals. Maybe more children will grow up and grow strong with the capacity to reach their highest potential.
But as Dr. Seuss said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” So please care enough to help us fight for these children and families. Thank you!
Ruth Wilson, Manager
Neonatal Intensive Care, Children’s Hospital of Georgia
For more information on the NICU and other pediatric services offered at Children’s Hospital of Georgia visit augustahealth.org/chog.