Newborn intensive care unit - staff; Neonatal intensive care unit - staff
This article discusses the primary team of caregivers that are involved in the care of your infant in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The staff often includes the following:
ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
This health care provider is a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant who functions similar to a resident doctor under the supervision of a neonatologist.
ATTENDING DOCTOR (NEONATOLOGIST)
The attending doctor is the main doctor responsible for the care of your baby. The attending doctor has completed fellowship training in neonatology and residency training in pediatrics. This doctor, called a neonatologist, is a pediatrician with special training in caring for babies that are sick and require intensive care after birth. At times, the neonatologist might consult with other specialists to help with your baby's care. Although there are many different people involved in your baby's care while in the NICU, it is the neonatologist who determines and coordinates the daily plan of care.
A neonatology fellow is a doctor who has completed a residency in general pediatrics and is now training in the subspecialty of neonatology.
A medical student is someone who has not yet completed medical school. The medical student might examine and manage a patient in the hospital, but needs to have all of their orders reviewed and approved by a doctor.
NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (NICU) NURSE
This type of nurse has received special training in caring for babies in the NICU. Nurses play a very important role in the continuous monitoring of the baby and the support and education of the family. Of all the caregivers in the NICU, nurses usually spend the most time at a baby's bedside caring for the baby, as well as the family. A nurse might also be a member of the NICU transport team or become an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) specialist after special training.
A pharmacist is a professional with education and training in the preparation of medications used in the NICU. Pharmacists help prepare medications such as antibiotics, immunizations, or intravenous (IV) solutions, such as total parenteral nutrition (TPN).
Residents are doctors who have completed medical school and are training in a medical specialty. In pediatrics, the residency training takes 3 years.
- A chief resident is a doctor who has completed training in general pediatrics and now supervises other residents.
- A senior resident is a doctor who is in the third year of training in general pediatrics. This doctor generally supervises the junior resident and intern.
- A junior, or second-year, resident is a doctor in the second of three years of training in general pediatrics.
- A first-year resident is a doctor in the first year of training in general pediatrics. This type of doctor is also called an intern.
A surgeon is a doctor with special training in diagnosis and care of conditions that require surgery. A pediatric surgeon has more advanced training in surgery for children. Surgeons are asked to see babies in the NICU who may require surgery for birth defects or conditions that occur after birth, such as necrotizing enterocolitis. Surgeons might also be asked to place central catheters in babies who require long-term intravenous fluids.
Caregivers from other specialties may be part of consultant teams, such as pediatric cardiology or pediatric surgery, involved in the care of babies in the NICU. For more information see: NICU consultants and support staff
Kimberly G Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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