For many parents with a premature baby, Randie Cloutier Chaine is much more than a social worker. She’s their advocate, a bridge to the medical team, and a friendly face.
As a medical social worker in the Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center NICU, Randie supports families while empowering them with information and reassurance about their preemie.
“Even though we each play a different role, we’re all focused on the same goal—and that’s having a baby go home with their family.”
Randie is there to celebrate their baby’s milestones, answer questions, and be a shoulder to lean on.
We asked Randie about her 16-year career at Cedars-Sinai and what she plans to do when her own babies leave the nest.
Q: What inspired you to pursue this career?
Randie Cloutier Chaine: I always knew that I wanted to help people.
After graduating college, I moved from California to New York to work at the Mount Hope Family Center, where I was exposed to many healthcare roles. After working there for 14 months, I saw how social workers make an impact on patients. That’s when I realized what I wanted to do.
Q: How do you support families who have a baby in the NICU?
RCC: One of the things I love about being a medical social worker is that no two cases and no two days are the same.
Even if you meet a family whose little one is in the NICU for the same reason as another family, it will be a different experience based on their dynamics and history.
I tell parents, “The babies in the NICU are all here for different reasons, but you have a shared experience.” This usually helps parents feel less alone or isolated.
Q: What do you love most about your job?
RCC: I really love that I’m helping someone in a time of crisis.
I also love working with a team. Even though we each play a different role, we’re all focused on the same goal—and that’s having a baby go home with their family.
Ultimately, I just want to be helpful and my job allows that every day.
Q: Part of your job involves teaching. What’s your role?
RCC: I work closely with residents and graduate students, supervising them while they’re in the NICU or other units.
I really enjoy having students because they bring such enthusiasm to the profession. They continually challenge me to think about my own practice and keep me updated on current research and practices. I think it’s valuable for them to see how the NICU staff interacts with families there.
Q: What is your favorite way to unwind?
RCC: Unwind? What is that?
Just kidding. I would say exercise: I am a huge fan of high-intensity interval training, and I enjoy hiking when I can convince my kids to come with me.
I also like spending time with my family indoors—playing board games and doing puzzles, reading, and binge-watching a good TV series.
Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a medical social worker?
RCC: My husband and I have plans to travel together once all our kids are out of school—6 more years, but who’s counting?
We’ve talked about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail together. I’d also love to foster some kittens—I guess that means I love babies of all types!