Townsville nurses write the book on neonatal care

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Nurses from Townsville Hospital and Health Services have literally helped write the book on neonatal care, with the first-ever neonatal teaching textbook written in Australia and New Zealand – “Neonatal Nursing in Australia and New Zealand: Principles for Practice”.

Townsville Hospital's clinical nurse Deanne August, clinical nurse consultant Judy Benton and Health and Wellbeing Service Group Director Vicki Carson were three of five Townsville clinicians who helped "write the book" on neonatal practice.

The book’s authors, Dr. Victoria Kain (Griffith University) and Dr. Trudi Mannix (Flinders University), sought submissions from neonatal nursing experts across the region. Rising to the challenge, Townsville Hospital’s Health and Wellbeing Service Group Director Vicki Carson, and experienced neonatal staff Dr. Jackie Smith, Neonatal Nurse Practitioners Ann Sproul, Deanne August and Judy Benton contributed five chapters to the book.

Dr. Kain said “it has brought together expert neonatal nurses, academics and midwives from all over Australia – including my home state of Queensland – and New Zealand to develop this outstanding evidence-based text for the advancement of neonatal and family-centred care into the future.”

Health and Wellbeing Service Group Director at the Townsville HHS Vicki Carson said the vision was for this textbook to form the basis in educating neonatal nurses during their university studies. “Townsville HHS, with our neonatal intensive care unit is one of the national leaders in neonatal care and it is important that we share our knowledge,” she said.

Ms Sproul said Townsville was the first public hospital to offer training in neonatal care in 1996. “This long history of delivering training has helped build professional standards and expertise here in Townsville which in turn builds the capacity of our clinical leaders,” she said.

Ms Carson said the vision of the book was to help trainee nurses with country-specific ways of dealing with newborns. “My hope is that it will become the go-to resource to teach aspiring neonatal nurses about caring for unwell neonates. Currently most university students use a US publication as the primary resource for learning about neonatal care. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t capture local context, demographics or cultural factors,” Ms Carson said.

Dr. Kain said end-product represented a number of ‘firsts’ within the neonatal field. The book was written to comprehensively reflect the local practice, context and standards of neonatal nursing in Australia and New Zealand, including the neonatal context for First Peoples, the neonatal nurse practitioner and advanced practice roles, local legal and ethical issues, and end-of-life care in the neonatal unit. It is also aligned to the Australian College of Neonatal Nurses and New Zealand Nurses Organisation Standards.

“It is the first neonatal textbook that captures the unique essence and context of caring for neonates in Australia, New Zealand and the wider region,” Dr. Kain said.

“Neonatal Nursing in Australia and New Zealand: Principles for Practice” is available through ClinicalKey for Nursing on CKN