Rate your NICU on a scale of 1 to 10 – Calm to Chaos

In early 2019, a healthcare marketing and research firm, PRC, released results of a nationwide survey of 2,000 nurses. According to the PRC National Nursing Engagement Report, over 15% of nurses reported feelings of burnout, and over 40% reported feeling “disengaged.” Shift after shift we painstakingly assess our patients, but are we assessing our own working environment, or own self-care needs?



How do we assess the extent to which our working environment is neuro-nurturing?

Where would you rate your NICU working environment on a scale of 1 (calm) to 10 (chaos)? 

As the saying goes,“You cannot pour from an empty cup.”  So often our quality improvement projects focus on the patient & family environment – cycled lighting, noise reduction, music therapy, books, massage, family support groups…but what about staff? 

While patient & family initiatives are important, are we neglecting our own wellness? Maybe instead of focusing on the patient environment, your unit needs to implement a wellness program to help nurses feel their best before you can even begin to transform the unit culture or even just make one more change (even a small change). 



When we are stressed out, burnt out, and have lost our passion for the work we do, we cannot even imagine doing one thing new or different.  I’m sure you feel this way sometimes, and I know you definitely work with at least one person in your NICU who lets everyone know that they feel this way.  

 As I travel, I see many NICU’s creating opportunities for staff to practice brief moments of self-care. I have seen pet-walking and meditation sessions for staff, visited Zen Dens and have been offered “Tea for the Soul.” Has your NICU done anything like this? I would love to hear about it.

 One of the ways that I practice self-care is through the use of essential oils. Want to learn more about essential oils and how you can use them in a nursing self-care routine? Click below to access our Essential Oils Master Class for Nurses!


Blog written by Sarah Bakke

Sarah Bakke, BSN, RNC-NIC


Sarah started her career in a level III NICU in Indiana, and has worked in both level III and IV NICUs over the course of her career.  She is currently a staff nurse in the NICU at the Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE, and is working towards her MSN as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Drexel University.


She has led a number of neuroprotective initiatives during her time at Nemours including launching a language nutrition program, founding a multidisciplinary NeuroNICU committee, and organizing quality improvement projects.  Sarah is passionate about all things NeuroNICU.

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