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Promoting mental well-being among parents in the neonatal intensive care unit: a perspective on the role of Physician Associates.

Emotional disorders in parents of infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) carry the potential for serious ramifications in neonatal and childhood outcomes. Despite this, current NICU mental health supports are less than optimum; postpartum mental health screening is limited, often missed in parents of inpatient infants, and may not be applicable to all family structures. Current evidence demonstrates improved outcomes in neonates and family members with early identification and multidisciplinary approaches to managing mental health problems. Physician Associates/Assistants (PAs) are a skilled group of advanced practice providers who are often a point of first contact for parents in the NICU, helping maintain continuity of care. In this perspective, we underscore leveraging the skills of PAs to promote the emotional wellbeing of parents in the NICU by way of practice and policy involvement. We also included a generic set of recommendations to equip PAs in this role.

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