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J Clin Nurs. 2009 Mar;18(6):910-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02308.x. Epub 2008 Jul 28.

Preparing nurses for practice: a phenomenological study of the new graduate in Australia.

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  • 1School of Nursing and Midwifery, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.



To explore the expectations of final year nursing students before they start employment and to describe the experiences of newly graduated nurses during their first six months of employment as registered nurses.


Nursing shortages are at crisis point world wide with registered nurses leaving the profession at a high rate and changing occupations. Thus, there is a need to reflect on new graduate nurses experiences in relation to retention and support.


Husserl's phenomenological approach was used to gain insight and understanding into the lived experiences of new graduate nurses.


Students enrolled in a Bachelor of Nursing programme at an Australian University were interviewed in their final semester and during employment in the hospital setting. Semi-structured interviews were used to gather data from 13 participants. Data were collected at three intervals: prior to commencing employment, one month and six months postemployment and the results were analysed thematically.


As students, the participants held positive perceptions surrounding their impending role as a registered nurse and what it would encompass. However, after one month of employment, it became apparent that nursing comprised of a culture that embraced cliques which excluded them. The graduates were unprepared for 'bitchiness' and the limited amount of assistance with unfamiliar tasks they received from registered nurses. Participants also found rotating to different wards recreated the feelings they experienced on commencing employment.


Nursing curricula should prepare new graduates for foreseeable stressors and oppressive practices so that graduates can become proactive in preventing and responding to factors such as silence and aggression. Moreover, nursing courses need to ensure that socialisation issues are addressed to assist in the eradication of oppressive practices. Finally, organisations need to address socialisation issues such as hostility within the workplace to address the attrition of new graduates from the profession.


Individuals in clinical practice settings need to be cognisant of the significant role that experienced registered nurses and nurse unit managers occupy in the socialisation of new graduate nurses. Additionally, there needs to be increased awareness that nursing culture can influence recruitment and retention of new graduates. Further, health care organisations need to evaluate the benefits of new graduates rotating through clinical areas in the first 12 months of employment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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