Walking a fine line: graduate nurses' transition experiences during orientation

J Nurs Educ. 2003 Oct;42(10):437-43. doi: 10.3928/0148-4834-20031001-05.


A phenomenological study was conducted to investigate graduate nurses' transition experiences during orientation. A purposive sample of 10 graduate nurses participated. Ten theme clusters emerged when the formulated meanings were organized into categories. Graduates experienced mixed emotions as they began orientation. Preceptors played a key role in the transition process, affecting participants' thoughts and progress. Graduates quickly realized the many differences between work and school, and were surrounded by feelings of stress as they assumed the new role of RN. For some, coping with death and dying was an emotionally difficult experience for which they felt unprepared. Finding a rhythm brought graduates confidence and feelings of accomplishment, and self-reflection emerged as an important and integral part of the transition process. Despite the challenges and stress of orientation, graduates found great meaning in their work, and most expressed readiness to be on their own by the end of 12 weeks.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing / standards
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Helping Behavior
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / standards
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Nurse Clinicians / education
  • Nurse Clinicians / psychology*
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / education
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Preceptorship* / organization & administration
  • Professional Competence / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States