Currently a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) at Akron Children’s Hospital in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Aultman, Diana Hannay, MSN, NNP-BC, reflects on her four-decade long journey as a nurse and shares how she views the future.
The NICU is a place where the only certainty is that there will be a beginning and eventually an end to the day. Dealing with patients and families experiencing the shattering of the hopes, dreams, and plans they imagined when becoming pregnant sounds more like a nightmare than a dream, but I would like to try to make you understand why I love it so much!
My role in the care of premature and sick newborns begins with the black and white task of the position. Sign-out report, daily rounds, entering orders, writing notes and updating the problem lists is not the most glamorous part of my job, but vital for consistency and progression of care.
Next comes the LOVE IT part. No patient is easy or straightforward. The diversity of illness challenges us to have a high level of knowledge specific to the neonatal population. This fosters our learning on a daily basis; there is constant intellectual stimulation. I am fortunate to collaborate with a quality-driven team to transform the lives of babies, giving many more of them the potential for healthy and long lives. In our facility, we truly have a village participating in the care of our most vulnerable patients and families.
I began my career as a staff nurse in pediatrics after graduating from a hospital-based program over 40 years ago. Moving to Canton Ohio gave me the opportunity to work in the rapidly advancing world of neonatology as a nurse and practitioner. I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees much later in my career than most, but in doing so, I benefited from a lifetime of experience. As an NNP, I use this knowledge and experience to listen to babies as well as their families. I have the privilege of delivering good news like “your baby is ready to go home.” However, sometimes I need to deliver difficult news or be present as parents receive difficult news to provide empathy, clarity, and support.
Over the years, I've come to realize that there are some things that I will never know. The path we take with each infant and family is unpredictable. However, I also realize that there is always something new to learn, something more amazing to see. May it always be so!