The support needs of new graduate nurses making the transition to rural nursing practice in Australia

Jacqueline Lea, Mary CRUICKSHANK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives: The aim of this paper is to present the findings from the new graduate nurse participants of a larger study that explored the transitional experiences of newly graduated nurses making the role transition in rural health care facilities in Australia. Background: Evidence indicates that workload, skill mix and organizational pressures are still of concern for new nursing graduates within the Australian context and internationally. Many graduates are expected by employers to have high levels of independence, well developed problem solving abilities and be able to assume management and leadership responsibilities early in their graduate year. Design: An exploratory, descriptive, qualitative case study design was utilised to determine the particular support needs over time that would assist with a safe transition to the rural nursing workforce. The aims of the study were to: (1) Explore the new graduate nurses' perceptions and experience of the nature and timing of support throughout their Transition to Practice Program in a rural setting; (2) Identify the functional elements of rural graduate nurse transition programs and develop guidelines that will assist in the design of Transition to Practice Programs that match the rural context and capacity. Methods: A purposive sample of 15 new graduate nurses who had commenced a 12 month Transition to Practice Program within a rural health facility from northern New South Wales, Australia, participated in this study. In-depth individual interviews with the new graduate nurses were conducted at time intervals of three to four months, six to seven months and 10 to 11 months. Results: One of the key findings of this study is that as the new graduate nurse making the transition to professional rural nursing practice moves along the transition continuum, there are particular and unique aspects of the rural nurse's role and responsibilities for which the new graduate nurse will require specific learning support during their transition. Conclusions: When the new graduate moves from the role of the student to the less familiar role of professional practitioner, it is important that a rural Transition to Practice Program offers an incrementally staged workload and responsibilities that recognises the graduate's beginning nurse status. Relevance to clinical practice: The study contributes new knowledge to the discussion of issues concerning support mechanisms for new graduate nurses as they make the transition to rural nursing practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)948-960
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


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