After the graduate year: A phenomenological exploration of how new nurses develop their knowledge and skill over the first 18 months following graduation

Lisa Mckenna, Jennifer M. Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aim This study sought to explore how new nurses develop their knowledge and skill over the first 18 months following graduation, as well as factors promoting or inhibiting their development. Background and Purpose The graduate year requires the new nurse to make the transition from student in an academic setting to nurse employed within the health workforce. To facilitate the transition, many public and private hospitals in Australia offer formalised twelve-month duration graduate nurse programs that provide graduates with rotations through a number of clinical areas; preceptor support; and study days. Initially twenty five participants were followed for a period of eighteen months, incorporating the graduate year as well as the next six months when they no longer had support from a structured program. Findings from the focus groups after completion of the final six months are reported in this study at which time nine participants from three hospitals continued in the study. Method A qualitative approach using focus groups was adopted to allow for rich data to emerge. Four different hospitals in Victoria, Australia allowed graduates to be recruited into the research project. These included public and private hospitals, as well as metropolitan and rural hospitals. For the phase of the study being reported here, focus group interviews were conducted between 16 and 18 months following commencement of the graduate program. Data from all focus groups were analysed using Colaizzi's (1978) framework. Findings Three main themes emerged from these focus groups: 'sense of belonging', 'knowing' and 'moving on'. It is only after the completion of a graduate year that new nurses gain a sense of belonging and are able to complete their socialisation into the clinical workplace. Conclusions The development of nurses beyond the graduate year does not end with the completion of their transition program. They may still be working to develop a sense of belonging, independence in their practice and exploring their future development. Further work is needed to explore the period beyond the graduate year in the development of the registered nurse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-15
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Journal of Advanced Nursing
Volume25
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes

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