Emily Golden’s tiny patients can’t tell her when something hurts, when they are hungry or when they need to be held. She has been working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego Health since she completed nursing school five years ago.
“That is part of the challenge working in the NICU,” Golden said. “We have to be able to figure out what they need.”
Golden has dedicated her career to taking the best care of the infants born prematurely at UC San Diego Medical Center where tracking the feeding, care and vital signs are crucial. After the hospital transitioned to a computerized medical record system, she recognized that babies didn’t fit into the record system meant for adult patients. So she modified the system and teaches other nurses how to use it.
Nurses must track the types of feeding the babies receive either through a feeding tube, bottle or breast milk, the weight of their diapers and their carbon dioxide levels. They also have different normal ranges for their heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs.
At UC San Diego Health, nurses are encouraged to improve processes and make changes that will improve their patients’ care, Golden said.
“Our Magnet designation reflects how integral nurses are in the system,” Golden said. “At UC San Diego, we are constantly trying to improve, and nurses are an important part of that process.”
Nurses here are included on rounds. “The doctors recognize that we know the patients the best because we spend all day with them.”
Golden said working in the NICU is a perfect fit for her where she can bond with the babies and their parents, often for several months of treatment.
“It is bittersweet to see them go home,” Golden said. “You think about where they started and how healthy they have become. It is very satisfying.”