a. Who are the NICU staff?

The NICU is a busy place. The babies need constant monitoring and 24-hour care from different health care providers. All of these health professionals are part of a team that is working to help your baby get stronger and help you cope while your baby is in the NICU. You are an important member of this team. Ask questions, be involved and get support. Here is a list of NICU staff and what they do. Some or all of these people may be part of the NICU team at your hospital.

chaplain (CHAP-lin) — A person who provides spiritual support to NICU families. 

charge nurse — A health care provider who has nursing training. The charge nurse makes sure that the NICU runs well. This nurse also oversees admitting babies to and discharging them from the NICU.

clinical nurse specialist (KLIN-uh-kuhl nurs SPESH-uh-list) — Also called CNS. A health care provider who has special nursing training in the care of children and their families. The CNS helps parents deal with their baby’s stay in the NICU. The CNS provides support and teaches parents about their baby’s health condition. The CNS is also involved in nursing staff education. 

family support specialist — A person who provides information, help and comfort to families when their baby is in the NICU.

lactation consultant (lak-TAY-shuhn kunh-SUHL-tuhnt) — A person who has special training to help women breastfeed.

medical geneticist (MED-i-cuhl juh-NETuh-sist) — A doctor who has special training in diseases that are inherited and other birth defects. 

neonatal nurse practitioner (nee-oh-NAY-tuhl nurs prak-TI-shuh-nur) — Also called NNP. A health care provider who has special nursing and medical training in caring for sick babies. The NNP works with the baby’s neonatologist and other medical team members. The NNP can do medical procedures and care for babies.

neonatal physician assistant (nee-oh-NAY-tuhl fuh-ZISH-uhn uh-SISS-tuhnt) — Also called PA. A health care provider who has special medical training in working with sick newborns. The PA works with the neonatologist, performs medical procedures and may direct babies’ care.

neonatologist (nee-oh-nay-TOL-uh-jist) — A pediatrician (children’s doctor) who has special medical training in the care of sick newborns.

neonatology fellow (nee-oh-nay-TOL-uhjee FEL-oh) — A fully trained pediatrician who is getting  additional medical training in the care of sick newborns. 

occupational therapist (ok-yuh-PAY-shuhnuhl THER-uh-pist) — Also called OT. A health care provider who helps figure out how well babies feed and swallow and how well they move their arms and legs. 

ophthalmologist (op-thuhl-MOL-uh-jist) — A doctor who has special medical training in the care of eyes and visi

patient care assistant — Also called PCA. A NICU staff member who helps nurses do things like change bed sheets, feed babies and prepare bottles. 

pediatric cardiologist (pee-dee-AT-rik kardee- OL-uh-jist) — A doctor who has special medical training in the care of a baby’s or child’s heart. 

pediatric gastroenterologist (pee-dee-ATrik gas-troh-enter-OL-uh-jist) — A doctor who has special medical training in the care of a baby’s or child’s digestive system. The digestive system is made up of organs and tubes that digest (break down) food a baby eats. 

pediatric neurologist (pee-dee-AT-rik nur-OL-uh-jist) — A doctor who has special medical training in the care of a baby’s or child’s brain and spinal cord. A spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that carries signals between the brain and the body. 

pediatric pulmonologist (pee-dee-AT-rik puhl-moh-NOL-uh-jist) — A doctor who has special medical training in the care of a baby’s or child’s lungs

pediatric resident — A doctor who is getting medical training in taking care of babies and children.

pediatrician (pee-dee-uh-TRI-shuhn) — A doctor who has special training in taking care of babies and children. 

pharmacist (FAR-muh-sist) — A person who has special training in how medicines work and the side effects they may cause. People get prescription medicine from a pharmacist. Pharmacists also provide medicines in the hospital and may round with the NICU team.

physical therapist (FIZ-uh-kuhl THER-uhpist) — Also called PT. A health care provider who looks at any movement problems babies have and how they may affect things like sitting, rolling over or walking. The PT helps a baby improve their muscle strength and coordination.

registered dietitian (REJ-uh-sterd dyeuh- TISH-uhn) — Also called RD. A health care provider who is trained as an expert in nutrition. The RD works with the NICU doctors and nurses to help make sure babies get all the nutrients they need. Nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, help the body stay healthy.

registered nurse (REJ-uh-sterd nurs) — Also called RN. A health care provider who has nursing training. An RN in the NICU has special training in caring for sick newborns.

respiratory therapist (RESS-puh-rahtor- ee THER-uh-pist) — Also called RT. A health care provider who cares for babies with breathing problems. An RT is trained to use medical equipment needed to care for babies.

social worker — A person who is trained to help families cope with their baby’s NICU stay. The social worker can help families get information from health care providers about their baby’s medical conditions, give emotional support, help families work with medical insurance companies, and help plan for when their baby comes home.

speech and language therapist — A health care provider who has training to help people with speech and language problems. In the NICU, this therapist often helps newborns with feeding problems.

surgeon — A doctor who has special medical training in doing surgery and other procedures.

technician (tek-NISH-uhn) — A member of the hospital staff who does things like draw blood or take X-rays (a test that uses small amounts of radiation to take pictures of the inside of the body).