Neonatology once again ranked in the U.S. News & World Report survey for pediatric specialties. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner David M. Haggard II, DNP, RN, NNP-BC, has worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s for 4 ½ years. Read why David thinks our Level IV NICU is tops and what he gets out of taking care of the tiny babies needing special care.
Q: What made you want to work at Children’s and specifically why the Children’s NICU?
DH: I had heard about the great things that are done at Children’s and wanted to become part of a facility that has a great reputation. The fact that the NICU was so new and growing was one of the main reasons I decided to join. I was very happy to be part of the growth of the great NICU that we have today.
Q: Why did you pursue nursing?
DH: As a young person, I grew up in a family business in Kentucky. I always knew I wanted to do something in my life that would give back to others. I found nursing and never looked back. It is the most rewarding job; I love making a difference in someone’s life.
Q: Where did you go to school?
DH: I attended my undergraduate nursing program at Lexington Community College in Lexington, Kentucky. I continued on for my Master’s degree at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and then completed my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at The University of Missouri – Kansas City.
- U.S. News & World Report
- Advanced Clinical Services
- Ranked in all including neonatal nutritionist, pediatric trauma center, intensive-care pharmacist and social workers.
- Clinical Support Services
- Ranked in all including genetic testing and counseling,
rapid-response team, pediatric pain management, infectious disease and anesthesia programs.
- Patient and Family Services
- Ranked in all including interpreters, child life specialists,
family support specialists, pediatric psychologists and family resource center.
- Heart-Lung Machine for Newborns (ECMO)
- Ranked “superior” for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation technology (heart-lung machine for newborns); and formally trained ECMO team availability.
Q: Tell me about your role in the NICU.
DH: I am a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in the NICU. I manage the care of critically ill infants under the supervision of a neonatologist. I perform necessary procedures required to treat the infants as well. Our team works with a multidisciplinary approach. We have members of the dietary, pharmacy and respiratory teams, among many others, who work very closely with us.
Q: Tell me about the kinds of patients you treat.
DH: The patients at Children’s are transferred from hospitals throughout Texas and surrounding states. We receive infants with complex medical conditions who require specialized services that can be found only at Children’s. It is very satisfying to know we work in a facility that has world class specialists who are renowned in their fields. I am proud to be part of a facility that can offer anything our patients may need.
Q: What drives you to take care of these babies day in and day out?
DH: It is quite taxing to see babies who are so very ill on a daily basis. However, knowing that I can play a part in their recovery is what drives me to do what I do on a daily basis. There simply is no greater reward than to know you had a part in making life better for a child. I take the Children’s mission statement very seriously. We truly do make life better for children every day.
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?
DH: The most challenging part of my position in the NICU is the pace at which neonatology changes. We are always learning new, innovative ways to treat infants with various disease processes. I am continually reading journals and attending conferences to ensure I am staying on top of all the current best practices. Our physicians do a great job of educating us while we are rounding on patients as well. While this is certainly a challenge, it is also one of the reasons I love what I do. I am constantly growing and enlarging my wealth of knowledge.
Q: What are you proudest of regarding your work in the NICU?
DH: The very strong little babies that we care for in the NICU. I am very proud to be part of something so important to the health of infants. I feel as though I make a difference in the life of someone who will go on to do great things with their life. It’s a feeling that I just simply can’t put into words.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
DH: I find it very rewarding when infants that I have cared for get well and go home and then come back to see us for visits. It is so rewarding to see those little ones growing and living normal lives after all they went through. Having parents thank you for taking care of their most precious gift is certainly a nice feeling as well. I also enjoy working so closely with the nursing staff. I love to teach and never pass up an opportunity to tell a bedside nurse or family about why we are doing what we are doing for the babies. I also enjoy the challenge of getting a sick admission and working very hard to ensure that baby is well as soon as possible.
Q: Tell me about the relationships you form with the babies.
DH: When you care for someone’s child, you become part of their family, whether you realize it or not. The parents grow to know you as do you them. You become attached to the little babies that you are caring for every day. You see the babies grow and get stronger, and you find yourself thinking about those little ones even when you are not at work. I certainly form a strong bond with the infants that I am the primary caregiver for in the NICU.