Dr. Lynn Named MRH Physician of Year
A carving in Dr. Nicholas Lynn's office at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital offers more than a hint about his profession.
It's a simple piece, just the word "neonatologist" with crawling, snoozing or otherwise contented-looking wooden babies attached.
Lynn leads a staff with the job of producing thriving babies from a population of tiny newborns who probably wouldn't have made it home from the hospital just a few years ago.
The medical director for Moore Regional's Clarke Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, he is the hospital's 2009 Physician of the Year -- nominated and selected by members of the clinical staff who observe firsthand the quality of care he provides.
One of the nurses who nominated him for Physician of the Year honors had the following to say about him:
"Dr. Lynn is a gentle, quiet, polite and compassionate man, and demonstrates this attribute on a daily basis. You see this each time he examines a baby and the way he communicates with the parents and the entire family."
Linda Wallace, Moore Regional's vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer, is also a fan of Lynn's low-keyed style.
"Dr. Lynn's humble way of teaching and mentoring the neonatal intensive care staff does not go unnoticed," she says. "We are fortunate to have him and are grateful to him for all he does to continuously raise the quality of care in the NICU.
"Our patients and our staff have benefited tremendously from his expertise and gentle bedside manner."
Lynn was born in Washington, D.C., the son of a dentist. As an undergraduate at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., he took a part-time job as a nursing assistant in a local hospital, work that allowed him to see how a career in medicine would let him combine his interest in science with his interest in people.
A surgical rotation in medical school refined that goal as he was able to observe the resiliency of children, even very sick children.
"I was amazed how children could go through major surgical procedures and within hours be happy," he says. "The most fascinating patients and the most fun patients I had were children. The whole attitude of children in medicine is very easy to work with. They respond so well to our interventions and can completely recover. I find that rewarding."
After earning his medical degree from Ohio State University in Columbus, Lynn began a three-year residency in pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center, where he became interested in the intensive care of children. That led to a two-year fellowship in neonatology at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington and then work with pediatric practices in Tennessee and Kentucky.
He joined Moore Regional's neonatology program in 2003 and became medical director in 2005. Also vice chair of the hospital's pediatric section, he is board certified in general pediatrics and neonatal-perinatal medicine by the American Board of Pediatrics.
The Moore Regional program also actively participates in the Perinatal Quality Collaborative of North Carolina, a statewide group of stakeholders in newborn care that periodically issues recommendations for improved care based on evidence-based practices.
Many of these recommendations become practice on the Clarke NICU floor.
"We're always looking for ways to improve," Lynn says.
Away from the hospital, Lynn shares life with wife Lisa, a former high school teacher, who now oversees the daily operation of their "hobby farm" of sheep, ducks and herding dogs near Carthage.
As medical director of the Clarke NICU, Lynn supervises a 16-bed unit. The Level III-A intensive care nursery accepts premature (28 weeks or greater gestation) and sick newborns who need more care than a standard hospital nursery can provide.
In addition to Lynn, the staff includes a second neonatologist, Dr. Michael Wisniewski, and specially trained nurses and neonatal nurse practitioners.
By necessity, the NICU staff works as a team. By design, Lynn is the chief promoter of staff communication and team leader.
"I have my role as a doctor, and they have a role as nurses," he says of his nursing staff. "They see the patients more than I do; they see the parents more than I do. My job is to make the medical decisions. Their job is to enact them and to provide the information I need to make decisions. I firmly believe that nobody knows everything, and I think everybody on the team has something to offer."
A second Physician of the Year nominating letter indicates the level of teamwork that Lynn encourages.
"Dr. Lynn is involved with everyone who cares for the babies in the unit," the nominating letter says. "Each morning, rounds are conducted with the nurse practitioners and nursing staff. Each nurse is given the opportunity to discuss her patient and have input into the plan of care. Dr. Lynn has a way of listening to both sides of a discussion and compromises with the plan."
The results are acknowledged. Since 2004, the Moore Regional NICU has participated in the Vermont Oxford Program, a national database that compares the unit's patient care and outcomes to those of programs of similar size throughout the U.S.
"Our results are very comparable to results of ICUs across the country," Lynn says.
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