Nurse practitioners provide an essential portion of the care provided on WakeMed's Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). They also provide coverage in the Raleigh Campus newborn and intermediate care nurseries as well as the Cary Hospital newborn and Level III nurseries. Nurse practitioners manage acute and chronic medical conditions (both physical and mental) through comprehensive history taking, physical exams, and the ordering of diagnostic tests and treatments. Nurse practitioners (within their scope of practice) are qualified to diagnose medical problems, order treatments, prescribe medications, and make referrals for a wide range of acute and chronic medical conditions.
Nurse practitioners, working directly within the NICU, are trained to work in conjunction with neonatologists. Often, they spend extensive periods of time with families to address needs and concerns. They act as a liaison between the family and the neonatologist while being able to provide advanced practice care for their patients.
There are 14 neonatal nurse practitioners working in the NICU at the Raleigh Campus and Cary Hospital. An additional 11 pediatric and family nurse practitioners care for patients in the intermediate and newborn nurseries at Raleigh.
The neonatal nurse practitioners provide 24/7 coverage in the nurseries at both Raleigh and Cary. They possess the training, knowledge and certification that allow them to perform many of the tasks and procedures that the unit's doctors also perform. They also function as the primary care givers for our tiny patients and help create continuity of care on the unit. Each of our babies is cared for by the same core group of neonatal nurse practitioners throughout their entire stay. A nurse practitioner can perform such skills as:
- Inserting Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC) lines
- Lumbar punctures
- Inserting umbilical vein catheter (UVC) lines
- Managing ventilator care
- Managing continuous positive airway pressure (BCPAP) support
Our nurse practitioners are all credentialed by a national board and some have completed or are in the process of completing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the DNP gives nurse practitioners even more experience in evidence-based practice, quality improvement and system leadership, among other key areas.