Growth can be measured in lots of ways.
In the NICU we spend a lot of time talking about weight gain, length and head circumference.
In the world outside of the NICU the word ‘growth’ can reflect physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, or financial progress, among other things.
So how does one go about measuring the ongoing development of something like neonatal therapy and our impact on the world?
I’ve been reflecting on this frequently since April will mark the 5th Anniversary of the NANT Conference.
Here are some fun facts for you:
- Conference attendance has more than doubled in 5 years.
- 2011 conference participants hailed from just 2 countries – this year you come from:
- United Kingdom
- South Africa
- Puerto Rico
WOW! (How cool is that?)
- The US states represented this year are far reaching – Alaska to Florida to Massachusetts.
- The top 10 states by number of participants (some of these may surprise you!) are:
- Arizona (not surprising!)
Tied for #10 – Illinois and Nebraska
- In 2011 we did not offer a Pre-Conference and for the last 3 years you’ve attended the Pre-Conference in droves. You’ve reported back about incredible practice changes you’ve made as a result.
- You’ve contributed to the ‘SOLD OUT’ status of the NANT Conference 4 out of its 5 years despite allowing for growth every single year.
Those are some of the facts. FUN and exciting reflections of what YOU have created in the world. The facts and numbers and statistics are invaluable. We keep track of them carefully.
And then there’s this kind of growth:
- Receiving an email from a therapist on the other side of the world that says, “I don’t know anyone in my country that does this work besides me. I found your website. Is it true that I can be a member? I believe babies and families in my country deserve the same quality care as every other country. Thank you for helping us.”
- Watching a neonatal therapist step on stage at the NANT Conference (first time speaking at the national level) and silently cheering as she knocks it out of the park.
- Witnessing experienced therapists from different disciplines present their collaborative research on a topic that is typically fraught with territorial issues and getting the feeling that their example just shifted the very cells of the participants and the future of neonatal therapy.
- Seeing groups of you reunite at the conference, thrilled to see each other again, and wondering how we ever did this alone.
- Talking to a highly respected (and awesome) nurse at the NANN Conference who looked me in the eyes and told me that her unit’s therapists have changed since joining NANT. They are more confident, they participate at a higher level in unit leadership and they infuse new evidence and practices into the NICU. She is proud to have them as colleagues.
- Receiving reports from many neonatal therapists who are moving away from a pediatric model in the NICU, and knowing for sure that babies, families and NICUs will benefit exponentially.
- Knowing for sure that the passion that YOU, as a group, bring to the NICU is changing the world. Research, clinical practice, education, parent support, mentoring, and leading. This is who you are. I’m honored to serve you.
There is no spreadsheet that tracks this kind of deep and lasting growth – just like weight, length and head circumference can’t account for huge leaps in development. Some people say that if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.
I beg to differ.