Stress Buster: Introducing Quiet Time for Neonatal Nurses


Poster Presentation

Purpose for the Program

Quiet Time was developed in this level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) as a strategy to reduce stress among the staff. Due to the highly technical nature of this unit and the complexity of the patient population, staff experienced high levels of stress that was exhibited by poor morale, absenteeism, and poor interpersonal relationships in the work environment. To alleviate the effect that this highly stressful environment was having on staff, mindful meditation was introduced as a strategy. The purpose of mindful meditation is to allow the staff to be self-aware of escalating stress levels and provide techniques for stress reduction that are healing and restorative. This unique and innovative approach provided the outlet the staff needed.

Proposed Change

Reduce the stress levels of the NICU staff by using mindful meditation as a unique and innovative strategy and provide the opportunity for Quiet Time to accomplish stress reduction, enhance the bedside care (calm nurse, calm infant), and improve the way nurses handle stressful situations in the unit.

Implementation, Outcomes, and Evaluation

In 2009, NICU staff indicated that they were suffering from high-stress levels that were evidenced by poor morale, absenteeism, and poor interpersonal relationships in the work environment. A program was developed to relieve stress among staff using a holistic approach. Personnel skilled in holistic strategies were identified. Staff members volunteered to spearhead the development of a program that came to be known as Quiet Time. Program leaders had varying degrees of experience and skill in meditation. One leader further developed the necessary skills by becoming a meditation specialist. Quiet Time was structured as 15-minute sessions, which were repeated immediately back-to-back to maximize staff attendance. During the session, lighting was dimmed and aromatherapy, guided imagery, and soft bell sounds were used. Techniques focused on abdominal breathing and respiration control. Progress was monitored by a series of questions about stress levels. Before the session, staff self-rate their stress level using a Likert scale. This was repeated at the end of the session to gauge the effect meditation had on the participant. Data collected since the inception of the program have shown on average, a 72% reduction in stress levels.

Implications for Nursing Practice

Quiet Time for neonatal nurses reduces the stress level of staff exhibited as poor morale, absenteeism, and poor interpersonal relationships in the work environment and, therefore, affects patient care.