Once upon a time, there was a neonatal therapist determined to bring change to the NICU.
She saw the gaps, the missing pieces of practice and culture holding them back from being a fantastic unit. She wasn’t alone. She and a small group of nurses banded together to advocate for the change. Slowly, collectively, the change became more of a mission than a project.
Because once they fully understood the evidence behind the change and fully grasped the positive long-term effects it could have on the infants in their care – well, it seemed incomprehensible NOT to move forward.
They sought out the correct avenues to pursue this change. The right leaders, the strategic meetings, the perfect time in the budget cycle. And yet they experienced roadblock upon roadblock, and the nearly rhetorical responses, “It’s not in the budget” and “It’s not an institutional priority.”
For months they kept at it. Months turned into a year, then two. Sometimes they took a break. One can only take so much rejection about something so vital and remain inspired.
Hundreds of infants were admitted, cared for, and discharged from their unit since the group first began advocating for change. Those infants will not reap the benefits of the groups’ efforts. But maybe next time, next quarter. And so it goes.
Then they rallied – new research! New evidence! Certainly, this would be enough to convince the powers that be that infants deserve something better. After all, the babies cannot speak, but they can feel. And in fact, they speak volumes – if one knows how to listen.
The group stuck together, remained steadfast in their mission. They found themselves in a meeting that changed everything. Suddenly, the brick walls crumbled, there was an opening. Light! Heads finally nodded in agreement! Could this be happening?!
It was happening. The advocates were beside themselves with excitement, relief, joy, exhaustion.
Months later, as one of the advocates walked past an infant’s bedside, she noted that the new practice had taken hold and that babies and families were better for it, not just in this moment but for a lifetime. It was worth it.
Note: This story describes you. All of you. And it reflects the many changes you want to see in your NICUs.
Know that you are not alone.
You are not failing.
Change is exponentially slow in healthcare. Many professionals give up along the way. Some leave healthcare altogether. You’re still here. Thankfully, you are still here.
Keep chipping away at the walls in your path.
You speak for those who cannot.
How long would the change take without you?