Dr. Hall’s Speaking Topics:
Recommendations for Psychosocial Support of NICU Parents
Comprehensive recommendations for psychosocial support of NICU parents, as crafted by a workgroup convened by the National Perinatal Association, are reviewed in six topic areas: family-centered developmental care, peer support, the role of mental health professionals, palliative and bereavement care, post-discharge follow-up and support, and staff education and support. Best practices, and how to achieve them, are reviewed.
Caring for Parents, Caring for Ourselves
This talk explores how NICU staff can provide psychosocial support to parents of babies in their care, and also addresses the very real need staff have to be supported themselves to minimize their risk of burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary traumatic stress syndrome.
Case Studies in Trauma Informed Care in the NICU
Several cases are described that demonstrate how trauma informed care can be utilized to support parents during their NICU experience. Basic concepts about toxic stress and how Adverse Childhood Events influence current behavior are discussed, and specific techniques for interacting with parents to minimize their stress and to promote a more healthy outcome are presented.
How to Transform Your NICU to Provide Comprehensive Family Support
Numerous strategies to transform NICUs through quality improvement projects are described with the goal of increasing the provision of comprehensive family support to NICU families. The Recommendations for Psychosocial Support of NICU Parents, developed by a national workgroup convened by the National Perinatal Association, are discussed as standards to implement.
Inside the Preemie Parent Experience: How NICU Staff Can Help
Dr. Hall joins with representatives of the Preemie Parent Alliance to present 1.5-2 hour interactive workshops for NICU staff. The goals of the presentation are to sensitize healthcare staff to the emotional needs of NICU parents and to improve their communication skills. Participants also learn to recognize signs of postpartum depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. The workshop model utilizes didactic introduction to concepts, case-based role playing based on personal stories of four NICU parents who attend, and audience discussion and analysis to achieve goals. For more information, contact either Dr. Hall or Keira Sorrells, Operations Director of the PPA, at email@example.com.
Helping Babies and Parents Bond in the NICU: The Critical Role of the NICU Nurse (or The Critical Role of NICU Staff)
The talk examines the multiple stresses faced by parents and babies in the NICU, and parents' increased risk for postpartum depression and PTSD. The adverse impact of impaired parental bonding on infant development, secondary to parental psychological distress, is documented, including worse cognitive, developmental, and socioemotional functioning in childhood and beyond. The balance of the talk then presents the many things NICU nurses and doctors can do to support parents and babies, to improve both of their long-term outcomes.
Reaching Across the White Coat Divide: Connecting with Parents of our Youngest Patients
Narratives from several medical memoirs, including For the Love of Babies, are used to illustrate how parents of pediatric patients react to encounters with physicians, and what ideals they are looking for in their relationships with doctors. Dramatic readings from these memoirs demonstrate how physicians must recognize the humanity of their patients, see the parent’s point of view, and improve communication with parents, as well as how doctors can best cope with the uncertainties which are inevitably present in the high-stress healthcare environment.
Lessons for New Doctors
This lecture is appropriate for medical students or residents. Dr. Hall reads excerpts from memoirs written by parents of pediatric patients, and from her own book, to teach lessons about how to do well in a career in medicine. These "lessons" stress things like the importance of teamwork, expecting to be questioned by parents--and not taking it personally when it occurs, being respectful of nurses and others on the healthcare team, making parents partners in decision-making about their children, understanding the patient and parent's point of view, and recognizing the humanity in our patients.
Parents’ Emotional Responses to the NICU Experience
The normal reactions parents have upon their child entering the NICU are illustrated with case examples. Psychological diagnoses parents may experience during NICU stays and beyond are discussed, including postpartum depression, acute stress disorder, and post-traumatic stress syndrome. Attention is given to best practices for communicating “bad news” to families.
Supporting Parents through Palliative Care and Bereavement
Psychological reactions of parents whose fetus is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition are detailed and ways to facilitate their bonding with their baby during pregnancy and the birth experience, all the way through baby's death, are described. Also discussed are ways for health care staff to talk with parents about the possibility of discontinuing life support for critically ill newborns, and supporting them through this process.
For parents of NICU patients:
How to Survive and Thrive in the NICU and Beyond
Parents' reactions to the NICU experience are reviewed, as well as potential long-term physical, social, and emotional consequences of being a NICU parent. Because NICU parents have a heightened risk of experiencing postpartum depression, acute stress disorder, and post-traumatic disorder (PTSD), these conditions are fully discussed, as well as ways to minimize their occurrence. Adaptive strategies for dealing with the NICU experience and life after the NICU are presented.
Fear vs. Hope in the NICU
A parent’s usual first response to their baby’s NICU admission is fear. However, when fear threatens to overwhelm parents’ hopes, coping with an already difficult situation is made harder. In this talk, Dr. Hall examines the breadth of parents’ emotional responses, and validates their feelings using narratives from other NICU parents and from several medical memoirs including For the Love of Babies. She presents suggestions for how parents can empower themselves and take the best away from their NICU experience. Dr. Hall also shares information about the long-term emotional after-effects parents may experience from their baby’s NICU stay, and provides helpful hints for how to deal with them. The importance of hope is continually reinforced.