Role transition from graduate to staff nurse: a qualitative analysis

J Nurses Staff Dev. 1999 May-Jun;15(3):97-110. doi: 10.1097/00124645-199905000-00003.


The purpose of this study was to describe the initial steps in the role transition of graduate to staff nurse. During the first 3 weeks of an orientation to a clinical unit in an acute care hospital, graduate nurses and their preceptors used feedback sheets to document the learning activities of the graduate nurse, communicate the need for and evaluation of learning experiences, and plan activities to meet the continued needs of graduate nurses. Daily feedback sheets from 27 orientees and preceptors were analyzed using content analysis. A model representing the process and components of role transition was developed. The model was based on five themes which emerged from the data: Real Nurse Work, Guidance, Transitional Processes, Institutional Context, and Interpersonal Dynamics. Analysis of results revealed that the initial transition of a graduate nurse to the role of a staff nurse was a dynamic and interactive process occurring between the graduate nurse and the preceptor. Guided learning led to progress in balancing increasingly complex care within a specific institution. Interpersonal dynamics among staff, preceptors, and graduate nurses affected the process of role transition.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / organization & administration*
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Job Description*
  • Models, Nursing
  • Models, Psychological
  • Needs Assessment / organization & administration
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / education*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Preceptorship / organization & administration*
  • Staff Development / organization & administration*