To Job Shadow or Not to Shadow?

In the newborn care specialist world, getting a foot in the door can be challenging at times! Many persons would recommend to job shadow a more seasoned newborn care specialist, to get a better picture of how to do the work. Persons are really looking for guidance on how to run a day time or night time shift, how to track and log things, how to interact with patients, how to actually implement the care of the infant, how to sleep train/condition etc.

I have gotten a fair amount of requests from newer NCS here in NYC, in recent times. I understand what it was like when I was new and I do understand why someone would feel it is in their best interest to shadow. I personally have never shadowed anyone and I always decline requests to be shadowed and here are the reasons why:

  1. It is disruptive to the energy and circle of trust I work to build with clients. Parents already feel super vulnerable right after having's taking a lot for them to open up and allow me in to support them. This is a time of great transition for them. Some are battling with processing their birth, challenges with breast/chest feeding, changes in their bodies, changes & challenges in their relationships, struggling emotionally & just trying to find their footing as parents. Some have been made to feel like a study object in the hospital, especially if it's a teaching hospital, and student nurses or residents are coming in and out, making notes etc. I am birth doula also and I see this happen and how it can dehumanize my clients in an especially vulnerable time! I don't like the idea of shadowing, especially for those above mentioned reasons. 
  2. Most of the requests I get are to shadow an overnight. Logistically, how do we even shadow on an overnight shift? That's now putting a burden on the Clients, to accommodate two ppl, especially with these tiny NYC apartments. 
  3. I think while shadowing may sound appealing, it has the potential to curtail someone's growth, their ability to find their own style...inadvertently you'd copy things & styles of the person you are shadowing. Some may take what they want from what they have observed and find their own style, but some may not. That is my concern about shadowing, that people may not walk into their power as an NCS because they get hung up on someone else's perspective or way of working.
  4. I also don't like the idea of someone shadowing me because how does that work financially? Do I pay them or do they pay me for my time? I am giving them my time, my knowledge & my perspectives, they may be giving me a helping hand which quite honestly, I may not necessarily have needed. Are they actively working alongside me or are they just watching? 
  5. What if their personality or ideologies clash with my clients, or me? How do I salvage a potential situation and save client relationships if something were to happen while they were there? Is it worth it to shoulder that kind of risk for the sake of being shadowed and contributing to someone's development?

These are the reasons, I don't do it..I've never shadowed anyone, I just jumped right in. What I do strongly recommend to newer NCS though:

  1. Go over your course from time to can never fully absorb everything once...keep going over it. 
  2. Don't just stop at the NCS course, you should strengthen yourself in other aspects of newborn development and newborn care. Once there is a strong foundation built on knowledge, it's easier to jump feet first in the mix! 
  3. Get a mentor versus someone you can shadow. A mentor can help you troubleshoot things on the fly, while you're on a job or whatever. If not a mentor, join a mentorship program.
  4. If you are a visual learner, there are many videos on YouTube etc, you can access. Similarly, you can pay someone for their time and have them do a one on one with you to walk you through how to manage your shift. I am a big advocate for compensating people for their time and knowledge. When I just became a birth doula, I paid one of my mentors for her time to walk me through step by step how to support a birth, and that was effective for me. 
  5. If you are a kinesthetic learner like me, jumping feet first into the work, is best! Just get in there and do the work!
  6. Consider Newborn Care Solutions NCS Advantage Program. To learn more about this, please visit their website here

At the end of the day, I find for the most part, people with particular skill sets and people with a big capacity to love and care for babies, are the ones attracted to this work. Everything they need to do this work already resides within them, sometimes all they need to do is trust their heart  along with a little boost of confidence! 

You got this! Take care🫶🏾

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