The second oldest of five kids, Berna Yancey has always been a caregiver. After graduating from Arizona State University, she began her career at Good Samaritan Medical Center in the obstetrics/postpartum unit. But her favorite part was taking the new mothers over to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to see their babies. So when Phoenix Children’s acquired the Good Samaritan NICU, Yancey made the transition. We sat down with her to find out how things have changed over the years.
1. What has been the biggest change in nursing over the years?
The technology. We were the first hospital in Arizona to get ECMO [extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a form of life support]. It is a process that bypasses blood from the lungs to the oxygenating machine in order to rest the lungs while we treat the baby.
2. What was the most difficult part of being a NICU nurse?
In the ’80s, as NICU nurse manager, I initiated and coordinated a grief support program called Angels Found patterned after the “Resolve Through Sharing” program. It was instrumental in helping families and staff deal with grief.
3. What type of work do you do these days?
For the past eight years, I’ve worked as a NICU data abstractor. We send data to two organizations that compare our NICU data with others in the country so that we can use that information to make medical and nursing goals to improve patient outcomes.
4. What keeps you busy outside of work?
My granddaughter is into dancing, so a big part of my life is going to classes with her and competitions. I’m also a big hiker. Although I have hiked the Havasupai trail in the Grand Canyon four times with fellow nurses, I now hike tamer trails at South Mountain and the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert.
5. How have the families changed?
Parents today are much more knowledgeable. They question things that we do—so that is fascinating and also so encouraging, because we want them to be involved.