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Nursing Excellence

The Online Newsletter for Children's Nurses
e-Edition, Issue 5 

Magnet LogoJennifer NorgaardParents As Partners In Care 

Jennifer Norgaard, MSN, RNC-NIC, CNS

In 2008, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Partners in Care Committee devoted itself to incorporating former NICU parents as advisors and partners in the planning, delivery and evaluation of care provided in the NICU. As an initial strategy, the committee completed a self assessment utilizing the Institute for Family-Centered Care’s self-assessment inventory. This assessment revealed opportunities in many of the focus areas including patients and families as advisors, education for patients and families, patient and family support, and quality improvement. The first step in the process was to identify and recruit parent volunteers to serve on the committee. In August 2008, the first parent volunteer was welcomed to the committee. Since that time, three additional parent volunteers have joined the committee offering their experiences and expertise as former parents to help lead change and improvements in the NICU.


The NICU’s commitment to family-centered care means that families have an essential role in planning and decision-making regarding their child’s care, as well as an important role in developing, organizing and delivering services.

The NICU Partners in Care Team have worked collaboratively to:

  • Re-design the NICU waiting room to be family friendly with new furniture, play toys and structures for siblings;
  • Implement discharge education classes taught by NICU nurses in both English and Spanish to help parents prepare for their infant’s homecoming;
  • Establish Parent Chat Night hosted by the parent volunteers as a peer support group for current NICU families;
  • Establish Meet the Doctor Night hosted by Neonatologists for current NICU families;
  • Initiate NICU Photo Task Force to help capture special moments and milestones and to commemorate special days (i.e. Mother’s Day); and,  
  • Implement a NICU Family-Centered Care award to recognize staff whose actions exemplify excellence in this area.

In addition, one of the NICU parent volunteers attended the Vermont Oxford Collaborative meeting in San Diego with the NICU team members involved in a performance improvement initiative to improve respiratory outcomes in very low birth weight infants.

Here is what one parent thought regarding their involvement in the Partners in Care Committee and the care that their infant received:

What drove you to get involved with the committee?

During the past couple of years, I had spoke to several people that I know who work at the hospital about my wish to help other parents who had babies in the NICU. I felt that I was in a place that I could possibly lessen their anxiety and/or just comfort them though these tough times. When they called me and asked if I would be part of the PIC council, I immediately said yes. This was my chance to help another mom or dad get through the roller coaster ride of having a baby in the NICU.


As a parent what are your thoughts about the staff?

I believe that I speak for most of the parents with babies in the NICU when I say that the nurses are wonderful! The nurses are the ones that are with our babies all day and night and are our anchors during those tough times. Of course, though, I had my favorite nurses that I would prefer to take care of my daughter.

I think that the nurses who work in the NICU are very different than nurses who care for the general population. NICU nurses don't just have one patient, ''the newborn," they have the newborn and the parents. Not only do they take care for our babies physical needs, they also must care for parents' emotional needs and provide educational information as well. As a parent of a NICU graduate and as a RN, I can say that these nurses are truly unique!


Bottom line, our babies wouldn't be here without the caring, dedicated nurses and the doctors who work at Children’s Hospital.

The Partners in Care team recognizes that advancing the practice of family-centered care is a long term journey requiring a commitment that evolves with the changing needs and priorities of the NICU and the families we serve. Our goals for 2010 include:

  • Respect for parent’s knowledge of their child
  • Improved staff response to patient/family
  • Promoting parent involvement in decision making
  • Enhanced family satisfaction with preparedness for discharge

In This Issue

Nursing Rights and Responsibilities

Nurse of the Year 2010

PICU Beacon Award

Critical Care Transport Excellence

A Culture of Inquiry

Nursing Governance Outcomes

Parents As Partners In Care

Professional Development

Contributions to Practice

Contributions to New Knowledge - Nursing Research

Leadership In Professional Nursing Organizations

Patient Satisfaction Comments