The honor is given to neonatology nonphysicians for their outstanding contributions to the field.
Erika Guillen has been a neonatal nurse for seven years, and she has spent the last four at Texas Children’s Hospital, where she works in the Level IV intensive care unit at the Newborn Center, which is reserved for newborns who have severe, life-threatening health problems.
Guillen has spent the majority of her life in the Houston area, and she has been dedicated to helping others the entire time. After graduating from nursing school, she immediately took a job working with newborns, and she began at Texas Children’s Hospital in Level II neonatal intensive care, gradually transitioning toward the higher levels, where she has the opportunity to care for babies brought in from all over the world.
“I’ve always had a passion for babies,” Guillen said. “I love taking care of babies. It’s a very special field to go into. When families trust you to care for these babies, when they tell you they go home and feel safe knowing that you’re taking care of their babies, that’s probably one of the best rewards you can get as a nurse.”
While the intangible rewards are motivation enough for Guillen, her co-workers also recognized the exemplary work she was doing, and she was nominated for the Reba Michels Hill Award by the physicians who work in the neonatal unit.
“The award is presented to people who dedicate themselves to research, education, patient care, as well as family care,” Guillen said. “Here at Texas Children’s Hospital, we take a lot of pride in involving families in the care of their babies.”
Because she works in Level IV, where most of the babies have major, often complex, health problems, it is particularly rewarding to Guillen when she sees a success story. The highlight of her job is seeing the joy displayed by parents whose children overcome seemingly overwhelming odds.
“A lot of these families come to us because we’re the best,” Guillen said. “When we’re able to give them a second chance, when we’re able to give them hope, and when we see their babies go home when they thought they would never live, that is one of the best things ever for us.”