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Jennifer Norgaard, RNC-NIC, MSN

Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has a very special feature, a group of nurses that form what we call their "brain trust". One of this group's leaders, Clinical Nurse Specialist Jennifer Norgaard, RNC-NIC, MSN, specializes in gathering and interpreting patient care data that tells the unit how they are doing and how they can improve. Data driven quality improvement is a constant focus in the 88-bed Regional Level III NICU and Norgaard plays an integral role in securing the research necessary to identify and implement best practices.

As project lead for the NICQ Quality Improvement Collaborative sponsored by the Vermont Oxford Network, Norgaard coordinates the efforts of project team members, keeps track of department goals and monitors performance improvement in the NICU. Jennifer speaks with a fellow NICU nurse

Norgaard monitors data that includes outcomes surrounding infections, chronic lung disease, the use of steroids, gastrointestinal issues, just to name a few. The data is shared with groups like the Vermont Oxford Network to help set benchmarks and best practices nationwide.

Information can be a great help in monitoring performance improvement initiatives. The NICU is currently part of a collaborative focusing on improving nutrition in premature babies and avoiding complications that can occur when feeding this fragile patient population. Jennifer's work with data is also helping the team in reducing catheter associated blood stream infections, a severe problem for neonates.

The data doesn't lie. The areas where Jennifer and the  Children's NICU have used this information to plan improvement have had visible progress. She will be the first to tell you that no initiative is over until its goals are reached, and that we are still working on all the areas mentioned. And if you want to know what the goals are, Jennifer has all the numbers and charts to show you, and she can probably predict when we will reach them. She is the modern model of the nurse who is armed with information and committed to helping kids.

As one of Children's change agents, Norgaard is involved in precepting clinical nurse specialist students and senior focus students. She remains active in the nursing community and holds memberships in the National Association of Neonatal Nurses and the Central California Association of Neonatal Nurses. Norgaard is certificated in neonatal nursing by the National Certification Corporation for Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties.

Norgaard began her career at Children’s in 1987 as an extern in the NICU. A year later upon graduation from California State University, Fresno, she accepted a position as a Staff Nurse. She moved into a Charge Nurse role and then became a Clinical Nurse Educator. In May 2008, she accepted the Clinical Nurse Specialist position.

Norgaard resides in Fresno with her husband. They have a son and a daughter. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, knitting and is an avid reader.