AWHONN Members’ Recommendations on What to Include in Updated Standards for Professional Registered Nurse Staffing for Perinatal Units

Kathleen Rice Simpson, Cheryl K. Roth, Sandra L. Hering, Gay L. Landstrom, Audrey Lyndon, Janice M. Tinsley, Julie Zimmerman, Catherine M. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To solicit advice from members of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) on what to include in an update of nurse staffing standards. Design: Online, single-question survey with thematic analysis of responses. Setting: Electronic survey link sent via e-mail. Participants: AWHONN members who shared their e-mail with the association and who responded to the survey (n = 1,813). Measures: Participants were asked to answer this single question: “The AWHONN (2010) Guidelines for Professional Registered Nurse Staffing for Perinatal Units are being updated. During their initial development, feedback from nearly 900 AWHONN members was extremely helpful in providing specific details for the nurse staffing guidelines. We'd really like to hear from you again. Please give the writing team your input. What should AWHONN consider when updating the AWHONN nurse staffing guidelines?” Results: The e-mail was successfully delivered to 20,463 members; 8,050 opened the e-mail, and 3,050 opened the link to the survey. There were 1,892 responses. After removing duplicate and blank responses, 1,813 responses were available for analysis. They represented all hospital practice settings for maternity and newborn care and included nurses from small-volume and rural hospitals. Primary concerns of respondents centered on two aspects of patient acuity—the increasing complexity of clinical cases and the need to link nurse staffing standards to patient acuity. Other themes included maintaining current nurse-to-patient ratios, needing help with implementation in the context of economic challenges, and changing wording from “guidelines” to “standards” to promote widespread adoption. Conclusion: In a single-question survey, AWHONN members offered rich, detailed recommendations that were used in the updating of the AWHONN nurse staffing standards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-336
Number of pages8
JournalNursing for Women's Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • childbirth
  • maternal health services
  • newborn
  • nurse staffing
  • nurses
  • perinatal care
  • pregnancy
  • staffing
  • workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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