At PPR Travel Nursing, we are honored to have a neonatal nurse on staff. Nicole Lanier was activated during the relief efforts of Hurricane Harvey as part of her work with the KidsKare Transport Team at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in our home town Jacksonville, FL. When she returned from her trip, we took some time to sit down and talk about why she chose neonatal nursing and to hear about her experiences in Houston.
Q: In your own words, what is a Neonatal nurse?
A neonatal nurse is a special nurse. Neonatal nurses are blessed with the opportunity to take care of and help save the tiniest of lives. Their assessment skills have to be accurate as the babies cannot talk to you, so we must monitor their vital signs closely, observe, and respond appropriately to their needs.
Q: How did you get involved with the field of Neonatal nursing?
I went to Florida State University for my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. During my last semester, I was assigned to the NICU at Wolfson Children’s Hospital for my internship. During my internship, I met the manager and she told me to contact her once I passed my boards – she saw potential in my skills and said she would offer me a job. Once I passed my boards, she was true to her word, and I was hired directly into the NICU.
Q: Is there a specific experience that drew you to want to work specifically with babies?
There was no specific thing that drew me to working with babies. I enjoyed the challenge of the job. No one neonate is the same. Every child presents with different challenges and their status can change within minutes. I do enjoy working with the families. You are taking care of their most precious possessions. It is a great feeling to be able to help the neonates, but also be a source of support for the families.
Q: How long have you been a Neonatal nurse?
I have been a NICU Nurse for 15 years.
Q: Recently you went to Houston to assist with the relief efforts of Hurricane Harvey, can you explain what you were doing there?
In Houston, we took our equipment and we helped support the hospitals there by providing our resources and our expertise as neonates needed to be moved from hospitals.
Q: You went to Houston through your work with Wolfson Children’s Hospital – can you explain that program?
I am on the KidsKare Transport Team at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. We are a Neo/Pediatric Critical Care Team that services a 250-mile radius of Northeast Florida. We have a partnership with Air Methods. It was that partnership that provided us the invite to go out to Houston to help with relief efforts.
Q: Is there a specific story or experience from Houston that you can share with us?
It is one thing to see devastation through stories on TV, it is another to see it firsthand. When we would fly into areas, just seeing the water up to the roofs of houses was chilling. At certain hubs, we saw recoveries/families and our hearts just were broken for them. There were a lot of resources that were sent to that area and we all worked together to get things done. It was wonderful to see all of the Teamwork from our staff, Air Methods, the Coast Guard, Navy, etc, that were there working together to help the people on the ground as well as hospital staff.
Q: If you could give a piece of advice to a nursing student who is considering specializing in neonatal, what would you say?
I would say be ready for a challenge, but know that it is one of the most fulfilling jobs you will ever have. You will develop some of the best assessment skills you will ever need as a nurse. You will always look back on neonatal nursing with a happy heart.
Q: Is there something you wish you had known early on in your nursing career?
Nothing specific. If I had my career to do over again – I would not change a thing. I am proud to be a Neonatal nurse and it prepared me well to go on to train for caring for the pediatric critical care population as well. Nursing has made me a better human. It is a selfless and sometimes thankless job, but you know you are providing a need, service, and care for the smallest little lives. It is a personal calling for me since I was very young. I am proud to be a Nurse and extra proud to be a Neonatal Nurse.
And we are extra proud to have Nicole Lanier as part of our PPR Family!
Happy Neonatal Nurse Day to all of our NICU Travelers! We appreciate you caring for the tiniest of lives, not just today but every day.