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Job Satisfaction of Neonatal Intensive Care Nurses

McDonald, Katie MSN, APRN, CCNS; Rubarth, Lori Baas PhD, APRN, NNP-BC; Miers, Linda J. APRN-CNS, DSN

Section Editor(s): Dowling, Donna

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0b013e3182624eb1
Online Only: Original Research

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to describe the job satisfaction of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses in the Midwestern United States. The factors explored in job satisfaction were monetary compensation (pay), job stress, caring for patients in stressful situations, level of autonomy, organizational support, level of knowledge of the specialty, work environment, staffing levels, communication with physicians, communication with neonatal nurse practitioners, interdisciplinary communication, team spirit, and the amount of required “floating” to other nursing units.

SUBJECTS: Participants were 109 NICU nurses working as either staff nurses (n = 72) or advanced practice nurses (n = 37). Of the participants, 96% worked in a level 3 NICU.

DESIGN: A descriptive, correlational design was used to study job satisfaction among NICU nurses.

METHODS: Nurses were recruited at 2 regional NICU conferences in 2009 and 2010. The questionnaire was a researcher-developed survey consisting of 14 questions in a Likert-type response rating 1 to 5, with an area for comments. Descriptive statistics and correlations were used to analyze the resulting data.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The majority of participants were moderately satisfied overall in their current position and workplace (mean ranking = 4.07 out of 5.0). Kendall's Tau b (TB) revealed that the strongest positive correlations were between organizational support and team spirit with overall job satisfaction (TB = 0.53).

RESULTS: The individual factors with the highest mean scores were caring for patients in a stressful situation, level of autonomy, and communication between nurses and neonatal nurse practitioners. This indicates that our population of NICU nurses feels most satisfied caring for patients in stressful situations (m = 4.48), are satisfied with their level of autonomy (M = 4.17), and are satisfied with the interdisciplinary communication in their units (m = 4.13).

CONCLUSIONS: Nurses in the NICU are relatively satisfied with their jobs. The small sample size (n = 109) of Midwest NICU nurses proves to be a limitation for generalization. Additional research is needed to further evaluate nursing role, educational level, and job satisfaction in the NICU.

Alegent Health System (Ms McDonald) and Creighton University School of Nursing (Drs Rubarth and Miers), Omaha, Nebraska.

Correspondence: Lori Baas Rubarth, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC, Creighton University School of Nursing, 2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE 68178 (

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2012 National Association of Neonatal Nurses