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compassion, flexibility, infant hospice, nurse characteristics, nursing role, pediatrics



  1. Eckenrode, Jessica MSN, RN
  2. Zimmerman, Kathryn PhD, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, APHN-BC, CCH
  3. Rice, Mary Eve DNP, MSN, CPNP
  4. Wilson, Debra Rose PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT


The purpose of this research was to explore the characteristics of nurses who care for dying infants and their families to better understand their strengths in this specialty and seek to give guidance to the nurse in this role.


Introduction: Caring for an infant and family at the end-of-life for the infant requires a unique set of nursing skills and characteristics. Nurses who have that skill set can shed light on the role and the individual strengths needed for success.


Methods: A phenomenological approach was used to examine the perceived traits and skills needed for these nurses. Eight participants were interviewed about their experience of working with these families. Interviews were audio-taped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using codes and categories. Four themes emerged.


Results: The four themes identified were flexibility, making memories, compassion, and nonjudgment.


Discussion: Understanding some of the characteristics required for this unique role can help nurses self-reflect and continue to care for these families and themselves during this sacred time. The findings have value for all pediatric nurses who care for children who may die.