Nurse Lynn Murphy knows the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can be an anxiety-inducing place for families.
Often, families who dreamt of a normal birth and healthy baby are trying to adjust to a “new normal” in the NICU. And it is bedside nurses like Murphy who both partner with the parents to help them adapt—and provide direct medical care for newborns.
Murphy, a 30-year veteran on our NICU team, was awarded the 2016 Grace Doffin Award. The award was created by Tony and Jaclyn Doffin, who lost their 10-month-old Grace from complications associated with a heart defect. It recognizes intensive care nurses who have been nominated by families for providing exceptional care.
We spoke with Murphy to better understand her passion for NICU work and her patient care philosophy.
Describe your role and day-to-day responsibilities as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.
I am a bedside nurse, and I give direct care to premature and critically ill newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that require immediate medical attention. This role is both challenging and rewarding. It helps that I have access to the newest technology, medications and medical advances—and am surrounded by a very dedicated set of colleagues on the NICU staff.
Why are you passionate about your position?
The NICU can be very scary for families, whose dreams of a normal delivery, healthy baby and short hospital stay are often dashed by the unexpected. It is important to help the families understand everything regarding their newborn’s health by explaining, supporting and educating them during their stay. With encouragement, we hope parents can learn how to interact and independently care for their infant, despite medical needs or challenges. By the time their baby is ready to go home, we want the parents to be comfortable in their new role.
Describe your reaction to receiving the 2016 Doffin Award. What does the honor mean to you?
For me, it was like receiving an “Academy Award” for nursing. There is no higher recognition, for a nurse, than to receive a nomination and an award that actually comes from the families we serve. I would like to thank the Doffin family for recognizing and rewarding the “role of the nurse” in intensive care settings.
Our nominating family said you showed them love and were a calming presence. What is your philosophy toward patient care? How do you make a difference for each of your patients?
Of all the caregivers in the NICU, nurses often spend the most time at the baby’s bedside, caring for the baby as well as the family. It is important to be an advocate for the baby—to let the NICU team know what is working or not working for each individual newborn. When taking care of a baby, I try to give the kind of care I would want my own child to receive. I try to keep calm—even though my heart may sometimes be pounding—so that the parents remain calm. The NICU can be a very stressful environment, so it’s important not to add to this stress.
Each Grace Doffin Award recipient receives $600 to use for continuing nursing education. What are your future plans, and how will this award help you further your goals?
I will use the money to attend a national NICU conference so that I can learn the most up-to-date advances and practices for the care of critically ill newborns. I hope I can bring this knowledge back and share it with my colleagues.
What do you love about the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital community?
I have worked on this NICU for about 30 years—which says it all! The NICU team—and
the OB/Birthplace team and all other pediatrics services—come together as a collaborative unit to provide the best medical and surgical care possible for newborns. I am honored to play a part in this, and do my best to support any infant and family arriving at our unit.