The Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) is staffed by a team of health professionals who work to provide the best care possible for your baby and you. Here are some of the members of the team.


  • Attending Physicians — The care of your baby will be managed by doctors who are called attending physicians. They are certified neonatologists who specialize in the care of critically ill newborns. A neonatologist is in the ICN 24 hours every day and one is in charge of each wing of the ICN for a month at a time. An attending physician sees every baby at least twice a day and approves every decision about your baby's care.
  • Fellows — The attending physicians are assisted by fellows who have completed a pediatric residency program and are receiving advanced training in the care of newborns at UCSF. Although the fellows change frequently, one is present in the ICN 24 hours every day.
  • Interns and Residents — Interns and residents are doctors who are in the UCSF Pediatric Residency Program. This program is three years long. Each doctor works in the ICN many times during the training program.

Each intern, resident, fellow or attending physician spends a month at a time in the ICN, working five to six days and several nights a week.

Each baby in the ICN is assigned to an intern, resident or nurse practitioner for primary care. This person will meet with you frequently to discuss your baby's condition and answer your questions. The fellow and attending physician also are available to meet with you regularly. Other medical specialists, such as pediatric surgeons, cardiologists and neurologists, will be called upon if necessary.


The nurses in the ICN have had special training to care for premature and sick babies. They provide bedside care for your baby 24 hours daily. Nurses are often the first people you will meet. They are an invaluable resource to families and can explain many of the details of your baby's care and treatment plan. In addition, nurses are responsible for teaching you how to care for your baby at home. Along with the bedside nurses, there is a "charge" nurse who supervises the daily events of the ICN, a nurse manager and a team of administrative nurses who manage the entire unit. Their doors always are open for you to share your concerns and comments.

  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioners — Neonatal nurse practitioners have extensive advanced training in the care of newborns. They function like the doctors to provide primary medical care for your baby. They will keep you updated on your baby's progress.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist — Clinical nurse specialists are experts in neonatal nursing who work with the medical team to ensure the best care for your baby.
  • Case Managers — Case managers, also called discharge planners, are nurses who specialize in getting babies and their families ready to go home. They coordinate follow-up care after discharge and help identify support services in your area.

Other experts

  • Patient Care Assistants — Patient care assistants, or PCAs, help nurses care for your baby. They help with feeding, give baths and take vital signs. They also help set up equipment and work at the front desk to help the unit service coordinators. They have many roles and are an important part of the ICN team.
  • Unit Service Coordinators — The unit service coordinators are often the first people you meet when you enter the nursery or the first person you talk to when you call. They are skilled at answering phones, managing paperwork, computers and running the front desk all at the same time!
  • Respiratory Therapists — Respiratory therapists, or RTs, manage the ventilators, oxygen and breathing treatments. They assist with suctioning and any other therapies that help improve your baby breath.
  • Physical and Occupational Therapists — These therapists work with babies who need special help with feeding, muscle exercises or adjusting to the intensive care nursery environment.
  • Hospital Lab Technicians — Lab technicians take care of the monitors that check oxygen and carbon dioxide in your baby's blood. They analyze blood samples drawn by nurses in addition to collecting patient information for research.
  • X-Ray, Echo and Sonogram Technicians — This group of technicians perform X-rays and other scans using portable equipment in the nursery or on the third floor in radiology.
  • Patient Support Assistants — Patient support assistants, or PSAs, are responsible for keeping the unit and equipment clean. They also help stock supplies and make sure the parent sleep areas and kitchens are clean.
  • Pharmacists — Pharmacists check the medication orders that doctors have written and distribute medications to babies. A satellite pharmacy is located in the ICN. Pharmacists also are available to the staff for consultation.

For more information, please see our glossary of terms and Parents' Guide to the ICN. Also, an ICN House Staff Manual is available online for doctors and other health professionals.