NICU Graduate Reunion: "A Celebration of Life"
BACKGROUND: Few understand the experience of having an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This article provides a discussion about the importance of an annual reunion for former NICU infants, their families, and neonatal staff. PURPOSE: The purpose of this article is to explain the impact of the NICU reunion on families and neonatal healthcare providers and describe the experience of organizing this reunion over the past 20 years. METHODS: This is a description of how a NICU reunion was organized at a regional neonatal center. Graphic-designed invitations were e-mailed to NICU graduates, who previously agreed to being contacted, 2 months prior to the reunion date. Social media were utilized to publicize the event on the hospital's Web site. RESULTS: At the reunion, parents and families introduced their NICU graduate to the neonatal staff who cared for them while hospitalized. Sometimes staff found it difficult to recognize the NICU graduates, who were toddlers or older. Parents were relaxed, expressing their appreciation for care received. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The impact of seeing an infant, born at 24 weeks, now walking, talking, and running cultivates pride in the NICU healthcare team. The reunion adds a positive dimension to the work of NICU caregivers. Parents look forward to attending the reunion to reconnect with NICU staff and other NICU parents. IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH: Directions for future study include a comparison of staff and families who attend the NICU reunion and those who do not, by using a survey or online evaluation tool, to improve future reunions.
Dweck, N., & Golombek, S. (2019). NICU Graduate Reunion: "A Celebration of Life". Advances in Neonatal Care, 19 (3), 205-211. https://doi.org/10.1097/ANC.0000000000000598