Making the Holidays Brighter

December 15, 2021 | Clinician Stories

How do you combat the potential loneliness of an empty nest? For one mom, you share your family’s holiday tradition, and it takes the world by storm. Sixteen years ago, Carol Aebersold was encouraged by her daughter to write a book and share their family tradition about Fisbee the Elf. Thanks to Fisbee, Elf on the Shelf was born, and has grown to be a global phenomenon with more than 13 million elves helping Santa in homes, schools, businesses…and hospitals!

Meet NICU Travel Nurse Shane

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) travel nurse, Shane, is seeing firsthand the joy Elf on the Shelf brings to families. The Monday after Thanksgiving, four small elves appeared outside Shane’s current hospital in Southern California. “The elves will not only bring smiles and giggles to the patients, but they’ll provide comfort to the families knowing that the elves are looking after their little loved ones, like I do, when they can’t be in the NICU.”

Originally from Iowa, Shane has worked in NICUs for close to eight years. “I vividly remember where I found my calling. It was in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My supervisor asked me to go weigh the baby in the room next door. I opened the incubator, picked up the tiniest human I’d ever seen, and began crying. I knew this was what I wanted to do from that moment forward.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shane built countless loving bonds and relationships with NICU families. “I have families all over the world that I remain in contact with. I’ve enjoyed watching their children grow and thrive. I love the kids, and while they’re in my care, I treat them like they’re my own.”

Shane has continuously been in NICUs throughout the pandemic. “The bonds that were created with my families during the pandemic were even stronger than before. Trust became more paramount than ever. A mother had to have an emergency cesarian because she had COVID. Due to regulations and the safety of the baby, I was her only connection to her newborn. I sent her photos, we did video calls, and I was the caregiver during her time of need. Once the baby was discharged, I was given the opportunity to place her baby in her arms for the very first time. Moments and memories like that you never forget.”

In addition to working as a travel nurse, Shane enjoys volunteering regularly and sparking joy in the communities he resides in. From serving on NICU family reunion planning committees in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to showing new parents how to bottle-feed and care for their children at the Institute for Family Medicine’s (IFM) Youth in Need and Epworth Community Clinics, Shane truly cares about giving back. “IFM is a nonprofit that helps the uninsured, underinsured and underserved in St. Louis, Missouri. Parents needed my help, and I really enjoyed teaching families how to administer prescribed medicine and care for their children. I believe that if you put out good energy, you’ll get that same energy returned.” Shane has been with Aya for close to two years and is looking forward to his future travels, serving more people in more communities and enhancing the lives of everyone he encounters.

Elf on the Shelf NICU adventures Elf on the Shelf NICU adventures
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