Many professionals work together to care for preemie babies. You may meet some or all of the following:
Neonatologist – A pediatrician who has had special training in newborn intensive care. The NICU doctors are in the hospital 24 hours per day to provide care for your baby.
Nurse Practitioner – A trained nurse who has received additional training in newborn intensive care so s/he can perform many of the same tasks as doctors
Clinical Nurse Specialist – A nurse with additional training and responsibilities for patient and nurse education
Primary Nurse – The nurse who will most frequently take care of your baby, develop your baby’s nursing care plan, and teach you to care for him/her.
Case Manager – The person who will help you with non-medical issues, such as where to stay, insurance, transportation etc. S/he also provides emotional support and counselling.
Perinatal Pharmacist – A pharmacist with special expertise in drugs for babies.
Respiratory Therapist – A person with special training for care and management of oxygen, breathing machines etc.
Occupational Therapist – A person with special training in infant development. You may encounter this person either in the nursery or in the follow-up clinic.
Physical Therapist – A person with special training in assessing and helping muscle tone and movement problems in babies. You may encounter this person either in the nursery or in the follow-up clinic.
Speech and Language Specialist – A person with special training in feeding problems like sucking and swallowing
Unit clerk – Individuals who transcribe orders, send blood tests to the laboratories, answer phones etc.
Hospital Chaplain – A hospital-based religious support person.
Others – People who stock shelves, clean the nursery, obtain laboratory tests, take x-rays, and provide maintenance
Your baby has one doctor and one or two nurses who are primarily responsible for his/her care. You may want to write down their names as they are the people with whom you will interact most frequently. You will also be cared for by other doctors and nurses during your baby’s stay.
In addition, if your baby has a particular problem, another physician specialist may be called in. Common subspecialists and their area of expertise include:
- Pediatric Cardiologist – Heart problems
- Pediatric Neurologist – Brain and nervous system problems
- Pediatric Gastroenterologist – Intestinal problems and nutrition
- Pediatric Endocrinologist – Glands and hormone problems
- Pediatric Ophthalmologist – Eye problems
- Pediatric Geneticist- birth defects
- Pediatric Surgeon- surgery