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The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit can be a rewarding and heart-breaking unit of the hospital. Nurses are certified in BLS (Basic Life Support, at the Provider Level) and PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support). The patient base in this unit are newborn babies who may be clinging to life due to: premature birth with underdeveloped lungs, drug abuse by the mother and are thereby born addicted to drugs, birth defects, abandoned newborns, and multiple birth newborns. These children, faced with life-threatening conditions, depend greatly on the nursing staff for their survival. Nurses in the NICU often face difficult issues with the families of newborns as well; they must be able to sensitively care for the families while providing the best care for their tiny patients. Nurses may expect that one or more family members will remain nearby while the newborn is in the NICU. The greatest reward in working on this unit comes when the nurse is able to discharge a healthy newborn to its home.

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