Team Medicine in The NICU: Ship or Flotilla of Lifeboats?

  • Ernest N. Kraybill
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 29)


The image of a majestic ocean liner plowing the Atlantic, a square-jawed captain firmly gripping the wheel, does not fit the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). All the NICUs in which I have worked have been small and overcrowded, not at all majestic. The lives that hang in the balance there are also small and fragile. Clearly, the physical symbolism of a ship is not appropriate. What about the organizational metaphor? Is the physician truly, captain of the NICU ship? If there is indeed a captain, who are the crew members, who the passengers, and what is their destination? Is the NICU really a ship, or a flotilla of lifeboats?


Premature Infant Physical Therapist Respiratory Therapist Crew Member Experienced Nurse 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernest N. Kraybill
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North Carolina School of MedicineChapel Hill

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