• Neonatal Nurses' Work in a Single Family Room NICU

      Doede, Megan; Trinkoff, Alison M. (2019)
      Background: In the past twenty years, neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) have undergone changes in layout from open-bay (OPBY) to single family room (SFR). SFR layout may be advantageous to nurses’ work in that it improves the quality of the physical environment, patient care, and parent-nurse interactions. SFR layout may disadvantage nurses’ work in terms of decreased interaction among the NICU patient care team, increased nurse workload, and decreased visibility on the unit. It is unclear exactly how SFR layout is producing these changes. Purpose: This study asked: what is it like for neonatal nurses to work in a SFR NICU? Methods: Interpretive description, a qualitative methodology, guided this study. Interviews and observations were conducted in one SFR NICU over a six-month period. Data were coded broadly, then collapsed into themes as patterns within the data emerged. The Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety model aided interpretation of nurses’ job demands. Emotional work was conceptualized as being preceded by emotional demands and anteceded by stress and burnout. Results: A total of 15 nurses participated. Overall, privacy, visibility, and proximity were integral in shaping nurses’ work. Regarding job demands, four themes emerged: challenges in infant surveillance and informal communication, alarm fatigue, and increased walking distances. Regarding emotional work, four themes emerged: families “living on the unit,” isolation of infants, ability to form trust and bonds, and sheltering. Emotional demands increased when families were living on the unit or when infants were left in isolation but were absent when nurses were able to form trusting relationships with parents and shelter them. Privacy gains on SFR NICUs may serve to balance losses in visibility and proximity for nurses. Conclusions: NICU layout impacts nurses’ job demands and emotional work. Future research should investigate unit layouts that maximize visibility and proximity for nurses while maintaining privacy. Neonatal clinicians transitioning to SFR layout should consider overall visibility and proximity of patients, equipment, and staff members from any point on the unit as a primary avenue for decreasing nurses’ work demands. Neonatal nurses will benefit from tactics that improve their communication skills with families.