I had the honor of presenting at the 38th Annual NANN Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada that took place in September of 2022. For those of you who don’t know what NANN is, it stands for the National Association of Neonatal Nurses. NANN is an inclusive, diverse community of registered nursing professionals who care for newborn infants born with a variety of health challenges, including prematurity, birth defects, infection, cardiac malformations, and surgical problems.
My presentation was titled “Improving Clinical Trial Consent and Implementation in the NICU: A Parent Perspective” and I was so excited to speak to such an important neonatal stakeholder group.
The presentation objectives were:
- Encourage nurses to contribute to developing a culture of research in their NICUs or nursing programs
- Give nurses talking points to better explain to parents why they should embrace the concept of research as core to the NICU mission, and that research is an essential component to improving outcomes for all babies
- Summarize the value of engaging NICU graduate parents and families in all aspects of research, including trial design, approach and implementation
- To advocate for nurses to be informed of both ongoing and proposed clinical research so that they can best advise parents on the safety and procedures to encourage consent
I hope that I met all of my objectives.
If you’re wondering why it took me so long to post about this, I’ll tell you. I have decided to return to school to get my second Master’s Degree in School District Leadership and I am nearly done. I have been teaching for 23 years and advocating for babies and children since my daughter was born prematurely ten years ago. It seems like my entire adult life I have been working to better the lives of children so I thought it was time to be in a position where I can affect real changes- so I went back to school. My hopes are that I will be in a leadership position within a few years and this is how I will spend the final 10 years (or more) of my career.
For now, I will try to squeeze in any speaking and advocacy opportunities that do not conflict with my day job so that I can continue to work toward my mission of improved physical and emotional health care for all premature and medically fragile babies and their families. I am grateful that I was able to travel to the 2022 NANN conference to do this.
While I was in Vegas, I did not do much gambling but instead attended many of the other presentations offered to conference attendees and I got to spend some time with my dear friends and fellow advocate- Dr. Yamile Jackson. Dr. Jackson is the creator of The Zaky and Zaky Zak, both products designed to be developmental care tools to improve the outcomes of NICU babies. She has her own NICU journey which led her to this work. You can learn more about Yamile and her products by visiting her website, HERE.
Back to the NANN Conference…
I believe in my heart that all NICU nurses are angels on Earth. They are not only your baby’s caretaker, but they are their surrogate parents when you cannot be there, and when you ARE there.
For many parents like myself who had babies too tiny and too fragile to hold– the nurses do it all. They change diapers, take temperatures, feed, snuggle and console babies who need comfort when their parents are not permitted to hold their own babies. They mother them. Period.
This was the most difficult part of being a NICU mom. I was not able to hold my daughter for one month. I had to look at her through a plastic box, occasionally sticking a freshly sanitized finger in a small opening when allowed to. I hated it, but quickly learned how much the nurses loved my baby and how they would do everything in their power to keep my baby alive and thriving. Because of these nurses, my daughter (who was born at 23 weeks gestation, weighing only 1 pound, 5 ounces) not only survived and thrived, but is now a typical 10 year old girl who loves to dance and play soccer. They will forever be my daughter’s angels on Earth and my heroes. This is why I will speak at any NANN conference of which they will have me and why I love them all.
I hope you will thank the next NICU nurse you meet and encourage young people to consider this career. It is live saving for babies and parents.
And as always, thank you for reading my posts and following our journey.
Until next time…