Photo by Becca Sabot
Staff Nurse, Neonatal Intensive Care
Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
“Intensive care can be, well, intensive,” Erlandson says—medically and emotionally. “Every minute and every microgram count.” There isn’t much room for a caregiver’s ego, especially in neonatal, where babies’ parents also give their baby care (and need to receive care from nurses, too).
And yet, she says, “Nurses have powerful egos because we want so badly to do the right thing and do good work.”
There lies one of the most difficult aspects of nursing, especially with regards to infants who need a high level of care: “honoring each family’s decisions for their own baby, letting the family’s needs be the priority, even if it conflicts with my own feelings and ego.”
Her 25 years in NICU has shown Erlandson the importance of this many times over. Today, she says, “My goal is to make it the best experience you can have. I want all parents to feel like they are the parents.”
That being said, Erlandson’s advice for parents is also one of ego reduction. “The best parents love their baby but say, ‘Do what’s best for the baby.’”