• Glossary

    The Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center works with a team of professionals to best meet the needs of each newborn. The NICU team is multidisciplinary and consists of professionals from a variety of specialties.

  • Nurse practitioners work along with doctors to provide medical care for your baby, just as the resident doctors do.  In the NICU, babies are assigned to either a resident doctor team or a nurse practitioner team. There are four resident teams and three nurse practitioner teams. The neonatal fellows (doctors) and the neonatologists (doctors) supervise the care provided by the residents and nurse practitioners.

    A doctor who has specialty training in the care of premature and critically ill newborns. The neonatologist is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The neonatologist is responsible for and directs all care of the newborn in the NICU.

    The NICU provides discharge coordination services for every patient and family on the unit. The care managers, experienced NICU nurses, organize individualized education for parents and families and collaborate with the medical team to provide smooth and timely transition to home. Care managers arrange healthcare providers upon discharge as needed.

    The NICU has two charge nurses on the unit 24 hours a day. The charge nurses coordinate patient placement, allocate nursing resources, attend rounds, and serve as a resource to the nursing staff. The charge nurses are the front line leadership in the NICU and are able to answer parent/visitor questions.

    The NICU has five clinical managers who oversee the nursing staff. They are involved in various projects that impact the delivery of care your child receives. Clinical managers can function in the capacity of a charge nurse. Should you have questions or concerns about the care your child is receiving, a manager can be reached any time of the day.

    The NICU supports the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics to provide breast milk for the first year of life. Since most babies admitted to the NICU are unable to nurse, we provide mothers with support as they establish their milk supply for their infant by offering:

    • Four private breastfeeding rooms with Medela Classic Pumps for pumping or nursing
    • Breast pumps on trolleys in each pod with privacy screens for expressing milk without leaving your baby’s bedside
    • Comprehensive list of rental stations for breast pump rental at home
    • Universal breast pump kits for milk expression
    • Many other supplies such as shells, shields, supplemental nurser systems and more

    The NICU is staffed with lactation educators / support personnel who assist mothers with breastfeeding. Lactation resources are available 24 hours a day.

    Residents are doctors who come to Cincinnati Children’s to receive training in the care of children, working closely with the attending neonatologist to care for the babies on the unit.

    The neonatal nutrition staff includes registered dietitians and registered dietetic technicians. The dietitians are licensed by the Ohio Board of Dietetics and registered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration by the American Dietetic Association. Many dietitians have additional training or certifications.

    The neonatal nutritionists serve as the nutrition consultants on the clinical team in the NICU. They advise the team on nutrition management for intravenous (IV), nutrition (parenteral) and oral (enteral) nutrition.

    Premature or other high-risk newborns have unique nutrition needs, and the neonatal nutritionists’ role is to work with the team to ensure those needs are met. They monitor the baby’s clinical status including lab values and growth parameters to help determine if the nutrition therapy is tolerated. Prior to discharge, the nutritionists ensure each baby is on a nutritional regimen that will meet the infant’s needs at home.

    A fellow is a doctor who is currently undergoing specialty training to become a neonatologist. The neonatology fellow is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to caring for the infants in the NICU, the fellow is present during transport of your baby to the unit.

    Healthcare providers who hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in occupational therapy, occupational therapists are registered with the national organization and are licensed within the state of Ohio. Occupational therapists working in the NICU have extensive training and experience working with this specialized population.

    They provide oral motor / feeding and developmental evaluation / treatment of the premature and medically fragile infant.

    • Oral motor / feeding intervention may include determining the safety of oral feeding, optimal positioning for feeding, feeding techniques to improve the quality of feeding by breast or bottle, and working collaboratively with the medical team to establish feeding schedules that support the health of the baby.
    • Developmental intervention may include hands-on treatment to influence muscle tone and movement patterns as well as providing specialized positioning to promote optimal development.

    Occupational therapists facilitate the transition from hospital to home by providing parent education about feeding and development. 

    Pharmacy staff consists of a neonatal clinical pharmacist (permanently assigned to the NICU) and decentralized staff pharmacists (individuals rotating through this position).

    • The neonatal clinical pharmacist is primarily responsible for attending patient care rounds as well as providing the team with drug information and pharmacokinetic dosing information for certain drugs.
    • The decentralized staff pharmacist participates in rounds as well, with primary responsibility for order entry and drug distribution. The decentralized pharmacist also helps with the provision of drug information and pharmacokinetic dosing.

    If requested, the pharmacy staff is available to provide drug information or medication teaching to patient families.

    Registered nurses are experienced nurses who care for premature and critically ill newborns. They provide high-quality nursing care with high-technology medical equipment and developmentally supportive care.

    The NICU has a dedicated staff of respiratory therapists providing a wide range of services such as assessing and treating infants with compromised airways, ventilator management and surfactant and nitric oxide administration. Respiratory therapists also provide point-of-care testing for blood gas analysis and participate in neonatal research. In addition, they serve as an educational resource for the community and other medical centers. Respiratory therapists are members of the ECMO team and maintain an active role in the multidisciplinary approach to the care of the premature and medically fragile neonate.

    It can be very stressful being a new parent and having a sick newborn in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. To assist parents during stressful times, professional licensed social workers are available in the NICU to offer support and social work services such as parenting, marital, family, financial and discharge planning. In the NICU every baby is assigned a social worker to ensure that specific family needs and concerns are addressed. Social workers help facilitate weekly NICU parent support group meetings and, when necessary, arrange medical and surgical care conferences.

    Speech pathologists (who have a master’s degree in speech pathology) in the NICU maintain the profession’s national accreditation and Ohio license with specialized training related to development, feeding and swallowing with premature and medically involved infants.  

    Services provided to infants and their families include:

    • Global assessment of and intervention in development as it relates to communication / interaction, cognition / play, oral motor, oral feeding and swallowing (instrumental studies).
    • Collaboration with your family and medical team to maximize your baby’s progress. 
    • Follow up (as appropriate) to facilitate the best transition to home, which could include clinic visits, home health or outpatient therapy.
  • Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Cincinnati Children's.