Imagine getting an urgent phone call that 10 preemie babies with potentially life-threatening conditions are on their way to be under your watchful care and supervision. You might clam up, you might not be able to think clearly or you might panic. But for Nadia Fingal, BSN, RNC-NIC, she remembers this day as one of the most fulfilling of her life.
While she admits to feeling a little nervous, Nadia did what her colleagues knew she’ll always do. She remained calm, focused, and thought critically to create and execute a successful admission and care plan for each child.
A Love for Nursing Takes Root
Nadia always knew she loved children. She grew up as an only child but recalls her mom saying that wherever she went in their neighborhood, kids would happily cling to her. She also loved hearing the stories about her maternal grandmother, who was a midwife in Trinidad, and decided that nursing would be a great career choice.
Nadia joined Children’s National in 2008 after earning her bachelor of science in nursing from Howard University, and she spent her first nine years as a bedside nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“It’s a really unique and rewarding experience to see a parent connect with their baby for the first time. The babies often arrive in the NICU very sick, and you form a really special bond with the families as you teach them how to take care of their child,” says Nadia. “There are a lot of firsts – the first time parents change a diaper, hold their baby skin to skin or see him or her smile. It’s amazing to watch parents learn to care for their children independently based on the skills you taught them.”
Taking Pride in Teaching the Next Generation
Now as a NICU shift coordinator, Nadia’s role has expanded to help teach and lead a team of nurses who care for an average of 50 babies or more each day in the unit. She helps with scheduling, answering questions, accompanying patients to procedures and checking in with families to see if there is anything else we can do to help make their stay easier.
“I accepted this position because I wanted to help newer nurses experience the same enjoyment of being a bedside nurse that I had. I tell them to be confident in what they know, but that it’s okay that they don’t know everything, and it’s okay to ask questions. As a shift coordinator, you get to help guide and support them.”
Nadia is also incredibly proud of the nurses she works with and the entire NICU team, which was ranked #1 out of more than 1,500 neonatal intensive care units nationwide by U.S. News & World Report for 2019-20. She says it isn’t just about providing medical care, but she also loves being able to help families through the emotional and social aspects of what is often one of the most difficult times in their lives.
Expressing Children’s Core Values Every Day
Compassion, commitment and connection – the Children’s National Core Values – come naturally to Nadia. She says that in order to find your true calling as a nurse, you must have compassion.
“You need to lead with compassion, love and care for every patient that walks through your door,” she explains. She also says that NICU nurses share a special commitment to the babies they care for, as they give a voice to the little ones who can’t speak for themselves. And connection? You feel it the minute you walk through the door into the NICU. “Being a nurse is so much more than just doing your assessments to check for heart rate and breathing, sometimes it means just holding a baby and letting them know they are loved.”