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The Battle for Better Neonatal Care

Chrysty Sturdivant and I just returned from a site visit for the 2025 NANT Conference. The hotel sales executive asked us to describe the participants that will attend the meeting. We used all the words that describe this community – passionate, dedicated, driven, compassionate, curious, supportive, and more. But we also conveyed that you’re pretty exhausted.

We explained that you are in a battle to improve neonatal care – to improve the care of someone’s son or daughter today in your unit.

Some might roll their eyes at the word ‘battle.’ That’s because they’re not standing where you are in the complex healthcare arena. What else do you call working tirelessly for efforts that are bigger than you among forces that are seemingly unequal and lost in decades of unrecognized and unsupportive culture?

I see the weariness in your eyes and hear it in your emails and posts. I understand the hesitation to bring up yet one more idea for which there’s no funding and the fear of not being heard at all. And yet, every day, you return to the hospital to do your work – your critical work of improving the quality of life for fragile babies and their families.

While the NANT team is busy preparing to refuel your passion in 2024, take a moment today to breathe and pat yourself on the back. As you read the quote below, understand that you’re genuinely seen and consistently celebrated. Those of us in the arena with you appreciate your determination and are right there to cheer you on.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.” – Theodore Roosevelt

As author and researcher (and previous NANT keynote) Brené Brown taught us, there is vulnerability in the arena. Thankfully, our tiny patients and their families model strength through vulnerability every single day.

They’re worth the fight. And so are you.