Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

College of Arts and Sciences



Major Advisor

Dr. Jean Lamont


Nurses face a multitude of interpersonal and individual expectations, challenges, and hardships every day of their profession. These experiences accumulate and can lead to burnout. This is especially true for nurses in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) who care for infants struggling with prematurity, congenital diseases, withdrawal, and more, all while working closely with grieving parents. This thesis specifically focuses on research discussing moral distress, compassion fatigue, and spirituality as variables associated with the experience of burnout. A critical review of current literature revealed patterns and inconsistencies in the relationships between these factors. Workplace Stressors and moral distress were found to be predictors of burnout while compassion fatigue was suggested as a result of burnout and traumatic experiences with patients. Spirituality was understood as a moderator for burnout as well as moral distress, but there were inconclusive findings for its relationship with compassion fatigue. This information and more was used to create a theoretical model of interaction and to propose further research. More research into the prevention of and interventions for burnout must be done in order to better the lives of NICU nurses and their patients.