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Authors

  1. Milford, Cheryl A. EdS

Abstract

The family of an infant born with a congenital heart defect is challenged by both the short- and long-term implications of the diagnosis and the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) hospitalization. Nurses are in a key position to support these families as they deal with the psychological, emotional, and financial impact of the NICU experience. Understanding how families perceive the NICU environment and their grief in losing the desired healthy baby provides the NICU nurse with the knowledge to engage in self-reflection on her or his interpersonal style and caregiving attitudes. Utilizing the concepts and principles of family-centered care and relationship-based practice, nurses can work together with the families to determine how to best meet the families' needs and to find the resources to support them. Families and colleagues appreciate nurses who demonstrate expertise in this approach to family-centered care. This appreciation leads to greater job satisfaction and decreased job-related stress.