Providing Comprehensive Care in the NICU through Creative Improvement
Maureen has streamlined processes for team communication, introduced bar coding systems for medications, optimized safety protocols, initiated new patient-focused programs, and more, all in an effort to provide comprehensive care for babies and mothers.
We recently spoke with Maureen about the importance of patient-focused innovation, leadership in nursing, and her passion for the NICU.
After about three years working as a clinical nurse, and training to be a preceptor and then a charge nurse, I also became involved in projects like new IT initiatives and a new NICU design team, and I served as co-chair of our Shared Nursing Leadership forums. I found that I enjoyed the extra responsibilities, while also being able to initiate positive change and serve as an advocate and leader for the clinical nurses and NICU staff.
My family and I always say that I "grew up" at Children's National. Many years of my youth were spent here, from specialty appointments to several major surgeries, over a span of years. I vividly recall special moments interacting with the staff who cared for me; those moments have shaped me into the nurse and person I have become. I've come to realize that the daily impact we have on others as nurses can shape their future, which is an incredible honor.
At Children's National, nurses and nurse managers have a lot of autonomy in practice. In addition to nursing practice, our scope includes things like regulatory readiness, budget oversight, nurse staffing, patient safety, occupational and employee safety, patient satisfaction, and involvement in special projects, like when we designed a new unit.
For example, we give free meal vouchers to lactating moms to encourage them to eat healthy meals and get enough hydration while they're nursing or pumping. We also have a free pump rental program for identified NICU moms who might be on a waiting list for subsidized hospital-grade pump rentals; otherwise, they sometimes lose milk supply entirely and the baby misses out on all the crucial benefits of the mother's milk.
We say nurses are the gatekeepers, and they really are. I can think of few other roles where continuity of care and assessment skills are as critical as they are in nursing ─ and in NICU nursing, you truly have to be the voice for your patient, who can't yet speak to tell you what's wrong. It's an honor and a privilege to be on the forefront of care for these vulnerable children. Nurses truly can make change happen, especially here at Children's National.
On the flip side, there can be challenges and heartache in working with such fragile infants, both physically and emotionally. Teamwork is extremely important in a unit like a NICU, and I'm thankful for the amazing team that we have.
Find a goal and stick to it. You learn something at every step toward your ultimate “dream” career, so make it count. Continue to seek out opportunities for growth, as you might be surprised to find what you truly enjoy!