On Being a Neonatal Nurse

Evi Dewhurst / September 2015

Neonatal nurses are special. It’s not just because they work with the most vulnerable infant patients. That’s just one of the many reasons. Add to it the sheer dedication these clinical professionals show to their career, their determination to make a difference, and the undeniable flexibility to multitask patient needs and family support. Does the list stop there? Not at all.

National Neonatal Nurses Day is celebrated every year on September 15 to show these professionals just how much they are valued. This important day was originated by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) in 2000 and is in its 16th year of celebration.

We wanted to share what is means to be a neonatal nurse this month. During August we polled neonatal nurses and asked them to complete this sentence: “Being a neonatal nurse means…” We were overwhelmed with responses filled with heart and passion. We took 20 at random to share with you below. Whether you are in the nursing profession or have a family member in the care of one of these very special people, you will enjoy these open and honest replies.

Being a neonatal nurse means quotesBeing a neonatal nurse means…

Witnessing brand new eyes open for the first time, and weary ones close for the last time. It means celebrating heart-overflowing joys, and soul-crushing sorrow. Holding tiny hands, and full- grown hands as well. It means becoming inextricably intertwined in babies’ and families’ lives, and there is no better profession. – Tammy Cheek, BSN, RN, RNC-NIC

Having the most meticulous of hands caring for the smallest, most critical patients. It means caring for parents, grandparents and family members, as well as patients. It means a blend of remarkable human beings paying incredible attention to detail, having amazing compassion and intelligence every minute of every day! – Teresa Proctor, MSN, CNS, NNP UCSF Benioff Childrens Hospital Oakland

Caring, loving, supporting, nurturing, and being an advocate for those little people who need us until they can go home with their family. – Teresa Oxford RN

I get to witness miracles every day. I feel so fortunate to work with families and their babies. – Debi Oliver R.N at Wellington Regional Medical Center

Helping a young preemie get from birth thru the obstacles of life in the NICU to preparing them and their families for their graduation to home. It means loving and caring for each individual preemie as if they were your own. It means mothering and nurturing the moms/families to help them to be able to care for their special preemie. – Kristina Willis, RN Clinical Supervisor, Spring Valley Hospital NICU Las Vegas NV

Helping tiny miracles beat the odds, holding a family’s hand during some of their most difficult days, and allowing our tiny patients to leave their footprints on our heart. – Karen Wheeler, RNC, Carilion Clinic Children’s Hospital NICU

Finding a unique and specific way to relate to family and baby in such a way as to promote healing , growth and mutual understanding in a difficult time. – Cornelia Yoder RN Mission Hospital NICU Asheville NC

Giving your all to your patients and their families as they navigate one of the most scary and trying times in their lives. It means patience, kindness, understanding, and empathy is a part of your job even if things seem overwhelming for you too. – Anonymous

Having the smallest, most fragile patient and knowing you are doing everything in your power to give them a chance at life. – Anonymous

I have the HONOR of being present in the most important days of a family’s life. I am trusted with their most precious thing in the world, their baby. Whether the outcomes are sad or happy, the bonds you make with the families are forever! Our days are always full. – Jennifer Baker, BSN,RNC-NIC

Caring for the tiniest of miracles, advocating for those without a voice, and supporting families by discussing with them answers to questions they do not even know to ask. – Kristina Mahan RN at Baptist Health in Little Rock, AR

Being the best person by helping families that are having some of their darkest days. You must come with the whole package in order to work with NICU families. Qualities are integrity, confidence, empathy, compassion, and pure caring for others. You also get to be present when many of our infants we care for go home to their families. Blessings. – Ellen Gregory

From me to you with love – empowering families with the knowledge, skill and wonder to help them grow into the role of a lifetime – parenting! – Rita Kunk, NNP

Helping families during a difficult time of separation from their infants. It means helping families prepare for going home and being a family. – Susan Patcha, RN, BSN, IBCLC CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital

Providing comfort & care to our little fighters. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Dr. Seuss – Anonymous

Touching the lives of families in a way no one else can! We not only take care of the smallest and sickest patients, we comfort, teach and advocate for mothers and fathers at the most vulnerable time of their lives! We love our job!!! – Raynee Tovar, RN NICU Nurse White Memorial Medical Center

Helping parents and families through one of the most difficult times of their lives and hopefully helping them begin one of the most blessed journeys of their life. – Randy Retin Miller, RN MSN

Being the first face many of the future generation sees and gets to know as a trusted friend. – Anonymous

Caring for the most vulnerable and loving it every day. – Anonymous

That I can provide families with a sense of an extension of their family. Being that loving and caring body for their child when they cannot provides them with comfort when they have to leave. – Jamie Simpson

If you would like to read more of these incredible responses, view our Medela for Healthcare Professionals Facebook page, where we will continue to post them all through September in honor of neonatal nurses everywhere. Thank you for all you do, neonatal nurses!