Walking the line between the possible and the ideal: Lived experiences of neonatal nurses

Hanne Aagaard, Elisabeth Hall, Jette Ammentorp

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


Middelfart, Børnesygeplejerskers Landskonference, Maj 2012

Objective: To investigate the lived experiences of neonatal nurses, that is, what it is like to be
a neonatal nurse after developmental care is introduced in the unit.
Methods: The study was designed as a qualitative interview study with a hermeneuticphenomenological
approach. Participants were seven neonatal nurses working in an 18-bed
level 2 and 3 neonatal unit at a tertiary university hospital in Denmark. Developmental care
was recently introduced in the unit, parents spend many hours a day with their baby and stay
overnight in guestrooms at the hospital.
Results: The essential theme of the phenomenon being a neonatal nurse is found to be ‘walking
the line between the possible and the ideal’. Five themes illuminate this essence. They
are: ‘being attentive to the infant and the mother—infant dyad’, ‘the body tells’, ‘time is
everything’, ‘working in a quiet and caring, crowded and distressing space’, and ‘teamwork —
demanding or smooth and helpful’.
Conclusion: Introducing developmental care in a neonatal unit changes neonatal nurses’ experiences
of caring for infants and mother—infant dyads. The meaning of body, time, space and
relationships are decisive and deserve to be included in nurses’ and nurse leaders’ discussion
about developmental and family centred neonatal care.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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