Graduate nurse program coordinators’ perceptions of role adaptation experienced by new nursing graduates: A descriptive qualitative approach

Karen Missen, Lisa McKenna, Alison Beauchamp


Aims: This research explores the challenges that new nursing graduates experience whilst adapting to their new role in their first year of practice. These challenges are presented from the perspectives of Graduate Nurse Program Coordinators in the state of Victoria, Australia, previously not described in the literature.

Background: Each year, thousands of new nursing graduates join the workforce in Australia, with many suffering major stressors and dissatisfaction in their first year of practice. Much has been written about challenges faced by this group from their own perspectives, yet nothing has been heard from the perspectives of those who support them; that is, the coordinators of year-long graduate nurse transition programs.

Methods: This descriptive qualitative study used individual, semi-structured interviews to access information and perceptions from sixteen Graduate Nurse Program Coordinators about the challenges experienced by nursing graduates in their first year of practice. Transcripts were thematically analysed to reveal reoccurring themes and sub-themes.

Results: The interviews provided an insight into various challenges that nursing graduates experience in relation to role adaptation in their first year of practice. Nursing graduates found difficulties with reality shock, work-life balancing and having unrealistic assumptions in their capacity to work, assuming they should be at a higher level despite being a beginner practitioner.

Conclusions: This study reinforces the need for education providers to maintain currency in their undergraduate nursing programs and to work closely with health care services in providing a quality clinical experience to all nursing students. It also provides evidence that graduate transition programs are essential, with Graduate Nurse Program Coordinators performing a crucial role in providing appropriately planned strategies to support graduates through this vulnerable time.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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