Transitioning from nursing student to successful graduate registered nurse

Author: Peter Mellor

Mellor, Peter, 2021 Transitioning from nursing student to successful graduate registered nurse, Flinders University, College of Nursing and Health Sciences

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On a yearly basis, thousands of students successfully complete their nursing degree and are eligible to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. Entry into practice is primarily via health services who offer employment via graduate transition programs in the form of one year fixed-term contracts. Transition programs and the graduate nurse have been the subject of research over a number of decades. The research focus has been on the nature of the support provided and the lived experience of the graduate nurse. The purpose of this study was to generate further knowledge and theory about graduate nurses in transition, and to investigate how nursing students successfully transition to become graduate nurses.

This study reaffirms the failure of education institutions and health care organisations to effectively support the passage of graduate nurses in their transition from student to professional registered nurse. An integrative review, a critical review of the literature, a literature review, and two grounded theory studies were undertaken to explore the spectrum of factors and perceptions that have an impact on graduate nurses and their passage to competent professional nurse in Australia from the perspectives of the graduates and the published research.

The findings of my research have revealed that graduate nurses are succeeding, not as previously assumed due to the transition programs provided, but from other factors which are filling the gaps. The reliance on transition programs is fraught with problems, because it is customary for graduate nurses to initiate their own support, engage in self-care, and action self-advocacy strategies. This has prompted the development of a new model which uniquely advocates a self-support framework for the purpose of preparing nursing students to successfully navigate their transition year. This unique theoretical construction reconceptualises both the nature of the transitional support provided to graduate nurses, and university preparation for practice. Recommendations include development of curricula by universities to ensure that nursing students are prepared with the essential self-support skills to successfully transition to being a professional nurse.

Keywords: graduate nurse, transition, acute care, adaptation, Registered Nurses, professional practice, reality shock, transition shock, self-advocacy, self- support, curriculum development, university preparation

Subject: Nursing thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2021
School: College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Supervisor: Anita De Bellis