Erika Baker, DNP, APRN, CPNP
Children’s swim instructor and children’s hospital volunteer were my first jobs and I’ve always loved science and health. It makes sense that I eventually became a pediatric nurse. My nursing career began in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at a children’s hospital. After a few years in the PICU, I completed specialized training to care for pediatric cardiac surgery patients. This was one of my most challenging roles, but also my favorite role as a nurse! In addition, I worked as a nurse in a Level III NICU which provided a whole new set of skills and broadened my knowledge base.
Working as an ICU nurse enhanced my critical thinking skills and judgment and I felt the need to advance my education and training. I completed the MSN program at the University of Florida in 2013 and became a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. For two years, I worked in pediatric primary care clinics which was an incredible experience. Although quite different from the ICU setting, it was certainly not easier. Caring for children from birth through college age and recognizing the anomalous in a sea of normal proved to be quite the challenge.
In my current position, I cover newborn nursery, and this was an easy transition as newborns were always a favorite of mine in primary care. I am now in a teaching hospital where I work very closely with pediatric residents and students from various disciplines. Our facility cares for an underserved population in an urban setting and we manage a range of newborn conditions in the nursery. We make every effort to keep newborns with their mothers whenever safe to do so. In our nursery, we manage phototherapy, IV antibiotics, hypoglycemia, NAS for the first 2-3 days, and infectious diseases such as HIV.
My most recent accomplishment is earning my clinical doctoral degree (DNP) from the University of Florida in May 2019. The most rewarding part about my doctoral degree was completion of a research project. My project evaluated a neonatal transition bed to decrease NICU admissions of newborns who are experiencing a prolonged transition process. My project showed that the neonatal transition bed is safe and reduces costs. The results revealed that over a one-year period, 76% of newborns were returned to their mothers. These results were excellent, and I am hoping to disseminate my research so that other institutions may decrease unnecessary NICU admissions as well.
Outside of newborns, my passions include traveling the world with my husband, exercise, outdoor activities, yoga, meditation, and reading. I am fortunate to be a member of a national organization with a wide variety of special interest groups. It has been great having a national network of colleagues to turn to for insight and professional advice. The Newborn Special Interest Group is an active and supportive group and I look forward to being involved in its continued growth.