Memorial Heroes: Sarah Elkington, NICU occupational therapist


January 8, 2021

What is your official title?

NICU Occupational Therapist.

How long have you worked here at Memorial Medical Center?

Four months.

How did you come into this position?

I had been seeking an opportunity to develop my leadership and program development skills and this opportunity fit perfectly with my career goals and passion for infant care.

What was your motivation for a career in healthcare?

I thrive on seeing and helping people progress in their knowledge, physical condition, emotionally, or in their capacity for resilience. 

What is a typical day like for you?

I work around infant schedules. First thing is to get updates from the nurses I work with and determine potential opportunities for education with families, how I can support nursing, and assess to see where my patients are on their path to discharge home. I respond to infant cues of fatigue, distress or hunger and work closely with the nursing team.

How would you describe your role’s responsibilities?

My primary responsibility is to provide patient care. Other responsibilities include providing education to staff and families, to promote neuroprotective care, and to consider long-term goals that will support the success and growth of our NICU and infant services such as community outreach, grant writing or educational materials for parents.

In what areas do you help patients?

I provide neuroprotective and developmentally appropriate care to infants who are born prematurely or with medical needs. This involves considering how I can mitigate a potentially stressful environment with positioning, handling, providing consolation or assessing feeding readiness. I act as a resource to parents and families to help them feel confident in their caregiving skills as needed and to help them understand the unique needs of having a baby in NICU. I have worked in pediatric settings nearly my entire 19-year career, so all aspects of having or being a child navigating an acute or chronic condition are important to me.

What are some of your interests outside of work?

I am currently pursuing a research doctorate from the University of Texas at El Paso in interdisciplinary health science. I spend time with my four children. I also enjoy gardening, sewing and crafts, and reading.

What is your favorite part about working for Memorial Medical Center?

I enjoy the supportive culture. I have felt welcomed from day one. I have had help when requested and feel my ideas have be heard and respected.