After diving deep into the heads of various patients last week, I took advantage of an opportunity to experience a very unique part of New York Presbyterian Hospital: the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The NICU is where newborn (often premature) babies are brought to receive treatment for conditions that result from spending less time in the womb. Babies that are born prematurely can face a host of developmental problems and have very specialized needs that—if not addressed properly—can lead to significant complications down the road. As such, most of the treatment in the NICU addresses the deficiencies (nutritional or environmental) of its newborn patients.
I started each day this past week going on rounds with a team headed by Dr. Anne-Lise Yohay, an Assistant Attending Physician in newborn medicine at NYP. Although the specific needs of each baby differed between cases, there were several common treatments used: constant positive air pressure (CPAP) for breathing, total parenteral nutrition (TPN), incubation, phototherapy to combat hyperbilirubinemia (jaundice), etc. One unique aspect of the NICU are its patients. Their communication abilities are limited to crying, which forces physicians to heavily rely on diagnostic readouts including but not limited to: stool analysis, x-rays, ECGs, feeding/sleeping patterns, and weight. From these readouts, physicians are able to diagnose and successfully treat patients.
In addition to spending time in the NICU this week, the rudiments of my research project have begun to emerge. More details to come, but it will involve a good amount of statistical analysis...exciting!