October 2020 – preemiePRO Highlight

Prem Fort, MD
Neonatologist, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital

“Knowledge is power, and when it comes to babies, empowering parents with knowledge is the best gift that we have to offer.” – Dr. Prem Fort

PREEMIEWORLD: How long have you been working in your field?

DR. FORT: 5 years

PREEMIEWORLD: Why did you choose your current profession?

DR. FORT: My sister was born prematurely, and as we are twelve years apart, I vividly remember visiting her in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The nurses and doctors that took care of her were calm, caring, and compassionate. I was so grateful for them as a sibling and saw them as heroes who saved my sister. I clearly remember thinking “I want to be just like them.” Although during my medical training I considered doing other specialties, my heart would always lean towards this ONE specialty; Neonatology. Neonatology gives you the tools and knowledge to help premature and sick babies transition from a rough start to life to going home healthy and growing. I wanted to be part of helping shape the future of these little angels. I finally listened to my heart and here I am, a neonatologist!

PREEMIEWORLD: What do you want other professionals to know about what you do?

DR. FORT: Caring for premature or sick babies means actually caring for the whole family. When a newborn is brought to the NICU, it is such a whirlwind of emotions for everyone involved. The family expected a completely different birth, with immediate bonding, holding, loving, and happiness all around. However, this is not the case in most situations in the NICU. Many parents feel stress, fear, apprehension, confusion, and a sense of loss of control. This is where we, as health care providers, have the ability to give back to families that control, and help them navigate through some of these emotions. I feel blessed and honored every time I care for the families, because miracles happen every day here and when you have fought for the baby and the family for over 24 hours and you are tired, physically and emotionally exhausted, you have a parent say “Thank you!” That suddenly gives me the strength and passion to keep working as hard as I can, to get every single baby healthy and happy home with family.

PREEMIEWORLD: What advice do you give to preemie parents?

DR. FORT: You are the best advocate for your baby or babies. Be as present as you can, be as involved as you want to be, and know that there are many ways for you to feel in control of caring for your baby. Holding, talking, even singing or reading a book to your baby or babies goes a long way in contributing to the overall well-being of the family as a whole.

PREEMIEWORLD: Fun Facts: Tell us a fun or quirky fact about you.

DR. FORT: Before I-pads existed, as a child, my brother and I would entertain ourselves on long car rides by reciting back word-by-word whole movies for hours. Drove my parents nuts!

PREEMIEWORLD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

DR. FORT: I have a YouTube channel “The NICU Doc” with fun, educational videos about the NICU for parents and I post daily on Instagram (@thenicudoc) advice for NICU parents from other health care providers, parents, and myself. Please subscribe and follow me!


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