Working in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be both rewarding and stressful. Stressors can outweigh satisfiers, leading to job dissatisfaction and turnover. Nurse retention remains a problem, particularly for nurses within the first year of employment.
The purpose of this study was to examine current nurse stressors, satisfiers, and coping processes in the NICU.
Seventy-two neonatal nurses from 3 Magnet facilities in North Carolina completed the ICU Stressors Survey, the Ways of Coping Scale, demographic data questions, and free-text questions in Qualtrics, a secure online survey system. Questionnaires were analyzed using protocols developed and validated by instrument developers, and quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS statistical software. Free-text responses were analyzed using iterative coding and thematic grouping.
Most nurses thought that NICU nursing was stressful, but they coped well with work stress. Nurses felt confident in their knowledge and patient care abilities and were not stressed by the NICU environment. Inadequate staffing was the most common stressor. Coping strategies were aimed at task completion. Nurses wanted better teamwork on their units. Nurses felt more respected by their peers and families than by their immediate supervisors and physicians.
Attention to staffing patterns is paramount. Team-building activities may help foster mutual respect and collegiality among the nursing staff and between disciplines. Research investigating creative staffing patterns would be helpful. Interprofessional research may also reduce stressors and enhance team performance.
Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina.
Correspondence: Elizabeth Fiske, PhD, RN, CNE, PCNS- BC, Appalachian State University, 254 Parkcrest Dr, Boone, NC 28607 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Institution where work occurred: Appalachian State University
No competing interests exist.