Neonatal Careers: How Do These Nurses Help Parents?

Neonatal careers are more than just "jobs." Whether you're already an RN or you're just starting out in school, neonatology careers give you the chance to help the youngest of patients. These specialized nurses work in hospitals and other healthcare settings, helping infants who are born with a variety of medical issues (such as prematurity, serious infection, or birth defects). Even though neonatal nurses work directly with newborns, they help adults too. Read on to find out how these caring pros support and educate the adult caregivers of their primary patients.

Getting to Know the Parents

The patients (in other words, the babies) aren't the only ones that neonatal nurses get to know well. The parents of the children in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) typically stick close to their newborns. This often means that the nurses spend hours each day with the parents, getting to know them and helping them to understand what's going on with their children. Neonatal nurses become partners with the parents when it comes to helping these medically fragile children. Doing so includes learning about who the parents are and what their needs are.

Acting as an Educator

Having a child in the NICU is scary. This is a time (directly after giving birth) that should be one of the happiest times in a parent's life. But, due to the challenging circumstances, it often isn't. Along with worrying about their newborn's health, parents may also feel lost when it comes to helping or caring for the child. It's the neonatal nurse's job to educate the adults. This may include teaching the parents about direct care (such as feeding the infant) or helping them to better understand the illness or condition that's affecting the child.

Answering Questions

Along with acting as an educator, being there to answer questions can help to calm the parents and empower them. Neonatal nurses aren't just in the NICU to administer medications and change IVs. They're there to help the parents too. If a parent has a question about what's going on with their child or how to help them, the nurse is there and ready to provide an answer. Keep in mind, this isn't the same thing as formally educating parents. Parent education typically includes providing information in a structured way, with a goal in mind. For example, the nurse may hold an education session for the parents on bathing the medically fragile child. Answering questions happens in a less formal manner, whenever the parents have a need or seem worried.

Neonatal careers go well beyond helping infants in need. Yes, these nurses certainly care for newborns in the NICU. But, they also help parents too. By getting to know the adult caregivers of their patients, neonatal nurses can provide the educational services and information (often on an impromptu basis) that will help these families to succeed during their hospital stays and at home. 

For more information, contact local professionals like Kidz Medical Services.