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Alternative Names:

Newborn intensive care unit - house staff; Neonatal intensive care unit - house staff


The house staff refers to the team of caregivers that are involved in the care of your infant in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). They often include the following:


This health care provider is a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant who functions similar to a resident doctor under the supervision of a neonatologist.


The main doctor is responsible for the care of your baby. The attending doctor has completed fellowship training in neonatology and residency training in pediatrics. This doctor is involved in supervising and teaching the other members of the house staff in the course of caring for your baby.


A clinical fellow is a doctor who has completed a residency in general pediatrics and is now training in the sub-specialty of neonatology.


A medical student is someone who has not yet completed medical school. The medical student might examine and manage a patient in the hospital, but needs to have all of their orders reviewed and approved by a doctor.


This type of nurse has received special training in caring for babies in the NICU. Nurses play a very important role in the continuous monitoring of the baby and the support and education of the family. Of all the caregivers in the NICU, nurses usually spend the most time at a baby's bedside caring for the baby, as well as the family. A nurse might also be a member of the NICU transport team or become an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) specialist after special training.


A neonatologist is a pediatrician with special training in caring for babies that are sick and require intensive care after birth. They coordinate the care for the majority of babies in the NICU. At times, the neonatologist might consult with other specialists to help with your baby's care. Although there are many different people involved in your baby's care while in the NICU, it is the neonatologist who determines and coordinates the daily plan of care.


A pharmacist is a professional with education and training in the preparation of medications used in the NICU. Pharmacists help prepare things such as antibiotics, immunizations, or intravenous (IV) solutions, such as total parenteral nutrition (TPN).


There are different types of residents.

  • A chief resident is a doctor who has completed training in general pediatrics and now supervises other residents.
  • A senior resident is a doctor who is in the third year of training in general pediatrics. This doctor generally supervises the junior resident and intern.
  • A junior resident is a doctor in the second of three years of training in general pediatrics.
  • A first-year resident is a doctor in the first year of training in general pediatrics. This type of doctor is also called an intern.


A surgeon is a doctor with special training in diagnosis and care of conditions that require surgery. They might be asked to see babies in the NICU with birth defects or a condition that occurs after birth, such as necrotizing enterocolitis. Surgeons might also be asked to place central catheters in babies that require long-term intravenous fluids.

See also: NICU consultants and support staff

Review Date: 11/27/2007
Reviewed By: Deirdre O'Reilly, M.D., M.P.H., Neonatologist, Division of Newborn Medicine, Childrens Hospital Boston and Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100