We’re so happy you’re here!

The theme for NANT 8 is Intensive Caring: The Opportunity in Every Moment.

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By definition, your NICU provides intensive care. Your unit expertly uses all of its resources to save the lives of premature and/or medically complex newborns.

And that’s just the beginning.

In a multitude of ways, you also provide intensive caring – the myriad of actions that exemplify how much you CARE about each and every thing you do…the things that endear families to you for decades to come. (Author and NICU mom Kelley French gave us many fabulous examples of this during her keynote at NANT 7. If you did not attend, read her book Juniper and you’ll understand.)

I would argue that in order to provide intensive caring, a professional must first have expert knowledge about how to interact with the fragile, nonverbal patients we serve. For example, how one handles an infant that is 24 weeks PMA depends highly on her knowledge of his brain and sensory system development as well as his diagnoses and ever-changing array of medical interventions and support.

But it’s much more than that. (And that’s a lot to begin with!)

It’s the unspoken things- the things you may not even count as tasks, or realize that you do over and over again each day. It’s the way you spend 2 extra minutes ensuring baby Emma isn’t lying on any tubes or lines that will exert pressure on her fragile skin for the next few hours. It’s the way you empower parents as you talk them slowly through their first diaper change even while you’re behind schedule. It’s the realization that how YOU are able to help baby Adam learn to eat matters little compared to how you’re able to support Adam’s mom through the complexities of oral feeding in the NICU. It’s the reason you would want THAT nurse or THAT therapist to care for your baby if he was in the NICU. It is the why and how behind every action and interaction.

The thing is, it is possible to provide intensive care without intensive caring. But in that scenario, much of the art of your work is lost.

We believe that truly excellent healthcare includes both concepts, seamlessly intertwined. We believe that our highest clinical aspirations involve not only neonatal therapy specific knowledge and skill, but the self-awareness and commitment to deliver intensive caring in each moment – knowing that moments truly build on moments in our population.

And one last thing:

We go one step further and believe that intensive caring includes how we treat each other and ourselves. It’s hard to provide intensive caring while your coworkers throw you under the bus or while you berate yourself for previous clinical mistakes or the not-so-great argument you had at home before work that lingers heavily in your mind.

It all matters because you bring it with you everywhere you go. Who you are and what you know at the precise moment you put your hands on a 2-pound person matters. It matters to them, to their development, to their families, and to you.

You continue to work in the NICU because you have been touched by the bigger mission at hand – the lifetime scope of your work, the strange combination of adrenaline, birth, loss, joy, grief, connection, isolation, and medical complexity. Most people choose not to work somewhere quite so all-encompassing. But you do choose it. You are committed to staying in the vortex of intensive caring.

At NANT 8 we want to help you do that well (with sanity), to the best of your ability, and with the latest and most relevant evidence, practices, and resources.

We can’t wait to see you there!

sue
Sue Ludwig OTR/L, CNT Chrysty Sturdivant OTR, CNT
NANT 8 Co-Chair NANT 8 Co-Chair