Nicky Holland – Neonatal Research Sister tells us a little bit about her role in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

I started working as a neonatal nurse on NICU at St. Peter’s many years ago. As a newly qualified staff nurse, NICU was a bit daunting but I knew that I would love it!

5 years ago I joined the research team and became responsible for the set up and running of the commercial and NHS funded clinical trials on the neonatal unit. I talk to the families of sick or preterm babies and explain the trials that their baby may be eligible to take part in. Although a very stressful time for parents, many want to help with research as a way of giving something back for the care their baby has received.


Who do you work with and what do you enjoy about it?

The whole NICU team is involved with and supports the research we do on the unit.

Dr. Reynolds the Neonatologist is the Principal Investigator taking responsibility for most of our studies. We successfully completed our own research that he designed, which has led to a change and improvement in our practise of stabilising preterm babies in the delivery room, using mobile nasal high flow. It’s exciting to have been part of this original work and to see it now being used regularly.

I believe in evidence based practise and I love being involved in trying to find a better way of doing things. Even the process of the research teaches us something and when we get the results there’s often a surprise or something we weren’t expecting, which is interesting!


What research studies are you working on at the moment?

We’re 2 years into a 5 year follow up study of babies who received an infusion of an insulin like growth factor (or standard care) when they were born at less than 30 weeks gestation.

We recruited over 60 babies to Elfin, which is a large NHS study evaluating the use of lactoferrin added to milk feeds, to help prevent infection in preterm babies.

Dr. Vennila Ponnusamy is PI for a small study, looking at Vitamin K levels in the blood and stool of preterm babies who are now breastfeeding in the community.


If you could research anything what would it be?

The parent journey interests me and how we can work together to all support each other in our roles with regard to the baby, but I would love to research something fun when I retire and look for the best waterslides around the world!