Grateful, Thankful, Moving Forward
Bobby Bellflower, DNSc NNP-BC FAANP
NANNP Council Chair
Over the past 18 or 20 months, life as we knew it changed. The COVID-19 pandemic altered the way we work and interact with babies and their families, and the pandemic affected our personal lives in many ways. As an educator and a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP), the professional impact of the pandemic was enormous. Finding clinical sites for students has always been difficult, but it became extremely challenging with the change in status at many hospitals and clinics. The shift in visitation policies for parents and families in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) caused more anxiety for families. As a result of some of the challenges, innovation occurred. The change in visitation policies for families reinforced the need for families to visit. Policies may now be more liberal than before the pandemic. Many NICUs have implemented cameras with 24-hour streaming of their baby. In education, the hospitals, NICUs, and clinics realized we could not provide well-educated nurses and providers without allowing students to attend clinical rotations. Hospitals, clinics, and other entities are beginning to offer more scholarships for students and clinical placements for high-quality clinical experience. Applications for undergraduate and graduate education have increased across the nation.
How do we move forward from our current reality? Although the past 18 months have been difficult in many respects, there are many reasons to be grateful. Most babies have not been affected by COVID-19 unless the mother was significantly infected. The pandemic did not negatively impact most NNP jobs. NICUs have continued to care for ill and preterm babies. For all of these things, I am grateful. Beneficial changes have occurred in the NICU with positive impacts on families and babies. Many of us have acknowledged that biases exist in the NICU and pledged to examine our biases and improve outcomes for babies of color. For this, I am thankful.
On a personal note, I have learned to be grateful for family, friends, and colleagues on a daily basis. Being positive and thankful for the things we experience daily has helped me through some difficult situations. I have learned that it is okay for me to be sad and frustrated, but it is not appropriate for me to express that frustration on a professional level. All NNPs are leaders, and as leaders, we must be optimistic about our profession and the impact we have on a professional and personal level.
Thanksgiving is almost here. I am thankful for my family’s health, my fantastic job as an educator and NNP, and for each of you. Neonatal advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are integral to most NICUs, providing excellent care and management for babies and their families. NANNP represents you and your professional practice. Thank you for your care and concern for babies and their families, especially over the past 18 months. Please let us know if we can do anything to help you in your professional practice.