Mighty Blog

Children’s Minnesota NICU patient grows up to become NICU nurse

It’s been almost three decades since Samantha “Sammy” Warwick entered the world and spent nearly the first three months of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Children’s Minnesota’s Minneapolis hospital.

Sammy was born three months premature, weighing just 1 pound and 15 ounces. Sammy’s original due date was supposed to be on Halloween, but her early delivery created a scary ordeal that would eventually have a happy ending.

“I needed time to grow and develop into a full-term infant. I needed time to develop my brain, lungs and feeding habits,” Sammy recalled when looking back on her time in the NICU.

Sammy’s mom, Terri, also reflected on those early memories. “Going to the NICU to see her was hard, it broke my heart to see her that way. It was hard because I was able to see her in the incubator box but could only touch very little at the time.”

Sammy’s mom likely never imagined it at the time, but her daughter’s story would eventually come full circle. Years later, Sammy began a career as a registered nurse at The Mother Baby Center at Mercy with Children’s Minnesota’s NICU in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, where she cares for a new generation of vulnerable newborns.

Growing up and becoming a NICU nurse

Sammy grew up mostly in Woodbury, Minnesota, where she enjoyed outdoor activities like fishing, ice skating and camping with her family. She also played volleyball, softball, cheered competitively and ran cross country. While very active, Sammy still dealt with health challenges associated with being born prematurely, including asthma and other complications early on in life.

Fast forward to the year 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sammy was now a registered nurse and working at Children’s Minnesota. She’s the first member of her family to work in the medical field.

“I specifically wanted to work at Children’s Minnesota because I’ve always heard good things about the organization. I think deep down being born there also made me want to work for Children’s Minnesota too.”

Joining a team of more than 500 neonatal care experts

It’s been 27 years since Sammy’s NICU stay at Children’s Minnesota as a premature newborn. Now as a NICU nurse, she’s part of the region’s largest neonatology program.

Our neonatal team of more than 500 doctors, surgeons, neonatal nurse practitioners and pediatric specialists is the largest in Minnesota – and one of the largest in the country with close to 200 neonatal beds in our hospitals and special care nurseries. The Kid Experts® in the neonatal program at Children’s Minnesota welcome more than 3,000 babies every year.

The Children’s Minnesota NICU in Minneapolis is now a Level IV facility – the highest level designated by The American Academy of Pediatrics. Our St. Paul hospital is home to a Level III NICU; so is Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids where Sammy works.

“Working here has been really rewarding because we see kiddos go from needing a ton of respiratory support to none, and then we get to see them hit their developmental milestones and eventually go home,” Sammy said. “For me it is really fulfilling to be able to comfort families on some of their worst days to eventually celebrate their discharge home.”

A century devoted to caring for kids

In 2024, Children’s Minnesota celebrated its 100th anniversary as an independent pediatric health care system. Sammy’s story as both a NICU patient and NICU nurse are one of countless created over the last century at Children’s Minnesota.

“I think the 100-year celebration is amazing and it’s fantastic the organization has been around so long,” Sammy shared. “Even comparing the picture of myself 27 years ago in the NICU to now – it is really interesting to see that some of the concepts are still the same, but we have heavily improved our medical technology.”

Join The Kid Experts®

Children’s Minnesota is 100 years old — and we plan to be here for another 100 years. We are looking for top talent to join us and take on truly life-changing work. That kind of devotion requires growing our powerhouse team of health care professionals with talent, experience and heart.

“If you’re looking for a job where you work as a team to provide the best medical and kid-friendly care, while making a difference in people’s lives, Children’s Minnesota is the way to go,” Sammy shared.

Right now, we are hiring experienced nurses, lab techs, medical assistants, dietary aides and more. Want to join our organization? Apply here!

Sammy shares her story with Fox 9