PreemiePro March 2020 Industry News

Therapy Pros (NICU/Early Childhood):  Attend one of the top early childhood conferences in the United States.  New York, NY April 28 – May 1, 2020. Go to for more info.

New on Our Radar for CEUs: Caring for Babies: How to Provide Psychosocial Support to NICU Parents is a program created from a collaborative effort between the National Perinatal Association, Patient + Family Care and the NICU Parent Network.

Caring for Babies is an effective online education program shown to improve NICU staff knowledge and attitudes towards providing psychosocial support to parents. It provides staff with the skills to more fully involve parents in the care of their NICU babies.A new type of continuing education program is available for NICU staff with a focus that no other educational program has: how to provide psychosocial support to NICU parents. Created by an inter-professional group of NICU professionals and graduate NICU parents, the 7 courses that make up the Caring for Babies program gives guidance and practical suggestions for how to implement change towards best practices in providing NICU care for families. A key feature in the courses is the prominence of the “parent voice,” so that staff can better understand their experiences, including the trauma and distress that many feel both during and after their baby’s NICU stay.

Course topics include:

  • Why parents need emotional support
  • Best practices for communicating with parents
  • Family-centered developmental care
  • Peer support
  • Palliative and bereavement care
  • Discharge planning and follow-up support
  • Supporting staff.

The focus throughout is how NICU team members can involve parents in the care of their babies, which may not only lessen the high rates of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder known to occur in NICU parents, but should also lead to improved developmental outcomes for babies.

Another hoped-for benefit is that staff burnout, which can lead to excessive turnover rates, thereby driving up hospital costs, should be lowered once staff have the tools to be successful in this arena of their practice. And finally, a goal of this provider education is ultimately to improve parent/patient satisfaction by helping to achieve families that are well-prepared and healthy at the time of discharge.This program was studied in two NICUs, one in a large academic medical center, and one in a small community hospital, among 114 participants.

Participants completed surveys on their knowledge and attitudes towards providing psychosocial support to parents before, immediately after, and again 6 months after completing the courses. While the literature has shown that both NICU physicians and nurses report skill deficits in communicating with parents—and that parents themselves desire improved communication–this study demonstrated that before taking the course, staff were aware of the importance of providing emotional support to families in their care, but did not feel they had either the confidence or strategies to provide that care successfully.  However, after taking the courses, participants (primarily nurses), achieved significant improvement in both knowledge and attitudes towards providing psychosocial support to parents, and these were sustained at a six-month follow-up evaluation. Ninety percent said they would recommend the course to their peers.

(Hall, SL, ME Famuyide, SN Saxton, TA Moore, S Mosher, K Sorrells, CA Milford, and J Craig.  2019.“Improving Staff Knowledge and Attitudes towards Providing Psychosocial Support to NICU Parents through an Online Education Course.” Advances in Neonatal Care 19 (6): 490–99.)

The courses can be found online at or and can be taken individually or taken together by an entire staff, as a basis for a quality improvement initiative in a NICU. Staff can reflect on what practices in their NICU need improvement, and find tools for achieving change, while taking the courses.

The three organizations that collaborated to design this staff education include the National Perinatal Association, Patient + Family Care, and the NICU Parent Network. Any questions can be directed to [email protected].