Key Points

NICU staff are the people who take care of your baby in the newborn intensive care unit. They include doctors, nurses and other kinds of providers.

NICU staff help your baby get stronger and help you understand and cope with your baby’s NICU stay.

The NICU staff work as a team to care for your baby.

Who are the NICU staff?

These people may work in the newborn intensive care unit (also called NICU) at your hospital:

chaplain — A person who gives spiritual support

charge nurse — The nurse who’s responsible for making the NICU run well, including scheduling NICU staff.  The charge nurse admits your baby to and discharges your baby from the NICU.

child life specialist - A trained professional who helps children and their families during challenging events. Child life specialists can help older children if they have a brother or sister in the NICU.  

clinical nurse specialist — Also called CNS. A nurse with special training to care for children and their families. The CNS teaches parents about their baby’s health condition.

family support coordinator — A person who provides information, help and comfort to families when their baby is in the NICU.

lactation consultant  — A person who has special training to help women breastfeed.

medical geneticist — A doctor who has special training to care for people with birth defects and genetic conditions.

neonatal nurse practitioner — Also called NNP. A nurse with special training to take care of sick babies. The NNP works with the baby’s neonatologist, can do some medical procedures and may direct your baby’s care.

neonatal physician assistant — Also called PA. A health care provider who has special medical training to care for sick newborns. The PA works with the baby’s neonatologist, does some medical procedures and may direct your baby’s care.

neonatologist — A pediatrician  who has special medical training to take care of sick newborns and may direct your baby’s care.

neonatology fellow — A pediatrician who is getting additional medical training to care for  sick newborns.

occupational therapist — Also called OT. A health care provider who helps figure out how well a baby feeds and swallows, and how well he moves his arms and legs.

ophthalmologist — A doctor who has special medical training in the care of eyes and vision.

patient care assistant — Also called PCA. A person who helps nurses do things like change bed sheets, feed babies and prepare bottles.

pediatric cardiologist — A doctor who has special medical training to care for a baby’s or child’s heart.

pediatric gastroenterologist — A doctor who has special medical training to care for a baby’s or child’s digestive system. The digestive system is made up of organs and tubes that digest (break down) food a baby eats.

pediatric neurologist  — A doctor who has special medical training to care for a baby’s or child’s brain and spinal cord. The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that carries signals between the brain and the body.

pediatric pulmonologist — A doctor who has special medical training to care for a baby’s or child’s lungs.

pediatrician — A doctor who has special training in taking care of babies and children.

pharmacist — A person who has special training in how medicines work and the side effects they may cause. People get prescription medicine from a pharmacist. Pharmacists also provide medicines in the hospital.

physical therapist — Also called PT. A health care provider who looks at any movement problems a baby has and how they may affect the baby sitting, rolling over or walking. The PT helps improve a baby’s muscle strength and coordination.

registered dietitian — Also called RD. A health care provider who is trained as an expert in nutrition. The RD works with the NICU staff to help make sure babies get all the nutrients they need. Nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, help the body stay healthy.

registered nurse — Also called RN. An RN in the NICU has special training in caring for sick newborns.

resident — A doctor who is getting training in a medical specialty. For example, a pediatric resident is getting training to become a pediatrician. A neurology resident is getting training to become a neurologist (a doctor who specializes in treating conditions of the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and nerves).

respiratory therapist — Also called RT. A health care provider who cares for babies with breathing problems.

social worker — A person who is trained to help families cope with their baby’s NICU stay. A social worker can give families emotional support and help them get information about their baby’s medical condition and NICU care. They also help families find resources and services to help them care for their baby, help families work with insurance companies, and help them plan for when their baby comes home.

speech and language therapist — A health care provider who has training to help people with speech and language problems. In the NICU, this therapist often helps newborns with feeding problems.

surgeon — A doctor who has special medical training in doing surgery and other procedures.

technician — A person who’s trained to do things like take blood or X-rays. An x-ray is a test that uses small amounts of radiation to take pictures of the inside of the body.

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Last reviewed: July, 2017