I am the I in IWK: Ray Huypungco (he/him), registered nurse, NICU/PICU

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Intensive care units are the places where the sickest patients are seen. Without these units, a health system simply cannot deliver the care necessary for patients who require intensive measures. IWK Health has two such units, one for neonates (NICU) and one for pediatric patients (PICU). Ray Huypungco, registered nurse, splits his time between both.

“Often when people find out where I work, there can be a common thought that it must be so sad,” says Huypungco. “Though there are inevitable sad cases that occur, being a part of the good outcomes is an experience like no other. It’s a feeling I can’t quite explain, and I am so grateful for it.”

Working in critical care is a unique experience, particularly when your patients are young babies and children. The opportunity for learning is constant, and the teams work collaboratively to provide the best care possible.

“I love everything about intensive care for both the pediatric and neonatal populations. The opportunities for learning between the two areas are so plentiful, there is always something to learn,” Huypungco says. “In the units we really learn to rely on each other—whether it be in the midst of running a code, emergently prepping a patient for ECMO, resuscing a newborn, or simply making cards for Moms and Dads—you need your team to make it all work. Every part of the team is necessary to help the patient and family heal.”

One of the challenges, and rewards, of Huypungco’s role is adapting to the different patient populations between the two units.

“For the neonatal population, I find it important to remember that premature babies just aren’t supposed to be in our world yet. It helps to understand why physiologically they can respond very differently to treatments when compared to term babies and children in general,” says Huypungco. “In PICU, because of the great variety in age. pretty much anything and everything can happen. Traumas, syndromes, acute or chronic medical and/or surgical issues all come through the unit.”

One thing that is consistent across both units however is the satisfaction in making a difference.

“There is absolutely no better feeling than being part of a team that has, without a doubt, successfully saved the life of a baby or child,” Huypuncgo says. “Whether that work happened over the last hour of your shift, or over the past three weeks, knowing I played a part in keeping a family together really feels good.”

Canadian Intensive Care Week is October 23–29, 2022.