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Well done Leanne Baker NZ’s Neonatal Nurse Educator of the year

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

We are very excited to announce that Leanne Baker, nurse educator for the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has been awarded a Neonatal Nurse of the year award at the COINN19 Conference.

Recipients are chosen by the Neonatal Nurses College of Aotearoa (NNCA) executive committee to recognise work and contributions to neonatal nursing at a local and national level and Leanne was one of two recipients to receive the 2019 award. The other nurse was also a previous employee at the Waikato neonatal unit.

Leanne has been working in Waikato DHB’s NICU for 25 years. She started as a new graduate nurse at the bedside and currently works as a nurse educator within the NICU.

"The award really means a lot to me - I feel very humbled to be included in a group of dedicated and passionate NZ neonatal nurses that I have always greatly admired.

"I enjoy my role and the opportunities it has provided me and would really like to acknowledge the fantastic team I work with - we are often unseen by much of the wider organisation due to our unique population but every person here makes a difference on so many levels."

At a national level Leanne was a member of the NNCA executive committee from 2012-2015 and during this period was project leader for the working party to develop the first Neonatal Knowledge and Skills Framework which provides a standardised clinical education pathway for neonatal nurses across the country. She has also been on the local organising committees of three national NNCA conferences hosted by the Midland region in 2008, 2015 and most recently in 2018 for the first ever NNCA symposium held in Hamilton in 2018.

Her achievements within the Waikato NICU include completing her Masters in Nursing from Massey University with a focus on neonates which provided insight into the very specialised education needs for nurses caring for this tiny population. Coming into the educator role involved taking on the facilitation and teaching of a neonatal course for nurses both from the Waikato NICU and smaller units across the Midland region.

Having a particular interest in neonatal respiratory care, led Leanne to participation and ultimately leading the NICU Respiratory Care team for a number of years which in turn fostered an interest in research aimed at improving neonatal respiratory devices for babies. Leanne has been fortunate to work closely alongside Fisher and Paykel during the development and trial of the Optiflow infant nasal cannula system and the subsequent Optiflow Junior 2 project known to the Waikato team as the Chocolate Fish trial. These award winning products, now widely used internationally, offer respiratory support, airway humidification, and supplemental oxygen to babies with a focus on patient comfort and family centred care.

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