Friday Fast Five - Meet Kathi Frankel

Each month we interview individuals associated with the Australasian NIDCAP Training Centre and the broader NIDCAP Federation International (NFI) community, asking them five questions that explore their association with our unit and NIDCAP.

This month, meet Kathi Frankel Physical and Developmental Specialist, Certified NIDCAP Professional and soon to be author from Atlanta, United States of America.

How long have you been associated with the NIDCAP Federation International (NFI)? I have been a NIDCAP professional since 1993 when I completed my NIDCAP certification with Jim Helm. I have been attending meetings for the past four years.

 What is your role in the NIDCAP international community? By attending NIDCAP trainer meetings, I have been introduced to the incredible professionals around the world. I continue to communicate with many and provide support. I have practiced NIDCAP in various NICU’s and clinics throughout the state of Georgia. I continue to practice NIDCAP in all my daily encounters with families. I recently moved into a role in the community, providing transitional support from hospital to home in my own private practice of physical therapy. I continue to give monthly lectures to various community organizations about caring for families in the healthcare system and in the home. I believe because of my deep understanding and promotion of NIDCAP, I am seen as a local expert.

 What has been the most meaningful learning for you during your NIDCAP journey? I have learned that the baby shows his/her best self when in the presence of the parents. The observations around parent- infant interaction are the most important and allow us to see the true neurobehavioral functioning. Assessing and observing babies in isolation or away from their beloved families seems to give us a picture of lower functioning. I have made it a practice to observe and assess on the parent’s chest or in their hands before I make a clinical judgement about their developmental status. To some of you this is intuitive, but I believe it took me time to learn this because infants are separated for long periods from their parents in American hospitals.

 In your opinion how does NIDCAP potentially benefit newborns, families and staff? NIDCAP gives us a framework to observe, present an make suggestions. The findings from NIDCAP research show us that providing systematic support from the top of the hospital down, can profoundly impact families and development of babies. It takes us from the NBAS to the world of the premie. NIDCAP tells us to treat these families with an individual approach that supports each of their stories. No two families are alike. NIDCAP respects this.

 What do you hope NIDCAP training centres achieve now and in the future? I think accessing NIDCAP training and certifications are becoming more of a challenge in the US. The economics of healthcare and cuts in medicaid have challenged pediatric professionals. NIDCAP will have to be flexible and adaptive to meet the needs of changing hospital systems. I believe we are thoughtful enough to do this.

Editor's note: The views of individuals do not represent the view of the Australasian NIDCAP Training Centre.