NEONATAL NURSE PRACTITIONERS: CHANGING THE WORLD
“Care to change the world” is a simple slogan used by the University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing Science that I disregarded during my graduate career. But as I settled into my neonatal nurse practitioner career, I began to think more and more about why the school chose that slogan and what it means to me.
While I was in nursing school, my second cousin was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia that was not prenatally diagnosed, and she spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I heard my first cousin talk about these amazing nurses who took care of her every day and I began asking her questions about the NICU experience. As a senior in nursing school, I became a NANN member because I felt that the group would help me develop as a leader and support me as I started my career. When I became a neonatal nurse right out of nursing school in 2004, I knew in my heart that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to change the world.
As I began my journey as a neonatal nurse at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, I did just that. I changed the world at the bedside as a nursing leader by helping patients and educating families on how to provide care for their children. I became a Delaware Valley Association of Neonatal Nurses member in 2004 to be more locally involved in our national organization.
Education has always been one of my passions, and so in 2006 I became the chair of the Breastfeeding Committee for the NICU. Our goal was to continuously educate nurses and parents on breastfeeding practices and standards within our unit and hospital. As I grew in my leadership role, I was able to identify areas that needed improvement to advance neonatal care. One area that our unit was struggling with around 2008 was transitioning infants to breastfeeding prior to discharge. I applied as a leadership fellow for the 2008-2009 Sigma Theta Tau International & Johnson and Johnson's Maternal Child Health Leadership Academy to assist me in changing the culture within our unit. After leading a 12-month continuous quality improvement project, we successfully increased our breastfeeding rate by 100% prior to discharge.
Looking back on the past 9 years and thinking about the University of Pennsylvania's slogan, I said to myself, “I haven't really done much, have I?” I have published a couple of articles, taught some classes, starred in a couple of educational DVDs, finished graduate school, and worked a lot. But what have I done to impact our world?
This past November I traveled to Haiti for a global health and medical mission for 8 days. It is an experience that has forever changed my life. It was a Tuesday afternoon as the plane flew over Haiti; as I looked out the window, I saw broken-down homes, shrubs, and dirty rivers. Destitute. Tears streamed down my face, because they have nothing. I would soon learn, however, that they have everything! Eight days of exhaustion, sweat, tears, smiles, Haitian Creole, hugs, singing, and love. I would not trade one single moment. The people learned from us and we learned from them. We healed them and they healed us.
As I look toward the future and what it holds, I have adopted a 3-year-old boy from Haiti to sponsor named Dabenson. My monthly monetary donation will give him food, clothing, education, and shelter. I hope to go back in the near future to continue our relief efforts there. Over the next 2 years I am serving as a mentor to a Children's Hospital of Philadelphia NICU nurse for the 2012-2013 Sigma Theta Tau International & Johnson and Johnson's Maternal Child Health Leadership Academy. I am actively involved in Delaware Valley Association of Neonatal Nurses and will be the president of this amazing chapter for the next 2 years. I also serve as the Surgical Neonate Special Interest Group facilitator and am always looking for ways to impact the care patients receive. Regardless of where you are in the world, whether it is at the bedside or halfway around the world, you are changing the world.
NEW PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT
Report of the 2011 Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Workforce Survey
The Report of the 2011 Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Workforce Survey provides data collected from more than 600 neonatal nurse practitioners to examine workforce characteristics and needs in the areas of demographics, practice environment, scope of responsibilities, benefits and reimbursement, and job satisfaction through 48 detailed tables. The report also contains a review of literature, methods, and an in-depth analysis in the healthcare environment.
Visit NANNstore.org to purchase these NANN products.
2013 ANNUAL EDUCATIONAL CONFERENCE
Save the Date!: October 2–5, 2013
NANN's 29th Annual Educational Conference
Innovations in Neonatal Care
Nashville Convention Center and Nashville Renaissance Hotel
Stay tuned for additional announcements at NANNconference.org.