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

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  • Hanne Aagaard
  • Elisabeth Hall, Denmark
  • Jette Ammentorp, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
  • Institute of Science in Nursing
København, EAPS Conference Okt. 2010
Background: Nurses working in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) meet a handful of professional challenges and are nursing ever smaller and more vulnerable infants using technological devices and in addition they have to integrate parents in the care.

A qualitative interview study with a hermeneutic-phenomenological approach.

To investigate the lived experiences of neonatal nurses, that is, what it is like to be a neonatal nurse at the time when developmental care is introduced in the unit.

An 18 bed level II-III neonatal unit at a tertiary university hospital in Denmark. Developmental care was recently introduced in the unit, and parents spent many hours a day with their baby and stayed overnight in guestrooms at the hospital.

Data were collected from seven neonatal nurses with varied experiences; they were analyzed and thematized following Van Manen’s phenomenological methodology.

Results: The essential theme of the phenomenon being a neonatal nurse is found to be ‘balancing between the ideal and the possible’. Five themes (with sub-themes) further illuminate the 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 ‘team-work – demanding or smooth and helpful’.

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 should be included in nurses’ and nurse leaders’ discussion about developmental and family-centred neonatal care.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2010
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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