What is it like to Transition from Student Nurse to Staff Nurse?

Did you ever wonder how is it like being a new graduate nurse trying to embark into the real world of professional nursing as a staff nurse? For most new nurses, the transition phase is very scary and for others it is a stage when enthusiasm for new beginnings take place.

Development of Professional Nurses in the contemporary times focuses on the quality of experience that will produce a safe beginning practitioner in nursing care and high patient satisfaction in any practice areas. The key to a successful nursing career and ultimately a high quality nursing care delivery is the critical transition phase of learning and development in the life of new nurses embarking into the workplace.

The transition process from a student nurse to staff nurse is not only stressful and challenging but can be a productive experience that shapes the nurse to become a safe practitioner. For many new nurses, the transition is an exciting period but also scary. Most new nurses feel afraid, are apprehensive, may lack self-confidence, or may be excited or enthusiastic to learn new things in spite of the anxiety. Some new nurses who are yet to begin work as staff nurse experience trouble sleeping as they ask themselves, “How will other staff and patients see me? Am I expected to know everything? What if I make a mistake? Will I be liked? Can I do justice to the profession?” These questions may be part of the anxiety commonly felt during the transition phase.

Even as qualified nurse, new nurses are not expected to know everything. Establishing oneself to become a trusted team member and adapting to the new environment takes time. Since new nurses will most likely be working shifts, they will not meet all the other staff right away. New nurses may still be working their way to develop a sense of belonging, independence in their practice and exploration of future career development. The presence of a supportive clinical environment for newly qualified nurses can enhance their transition experiences considerably.

Some new nurses acknowledge the sense of belonging during the transition phase when there is a support programme that offers positive outcomes. When support is provided to newly qualified nurses, the benefit and strength of the programme are noteworthy. They may prove beneficial and can enable the new nurses to feel accepted and able to work as a valued member of the team.

The stressful transition phase can be attributed to factors such as lack of experience, lack of organizational skills, new situations involving the interdisciplinary team, large patient loads, interruptions, reliance on others and perceived lack of support, which can all make the new nurse transition from novice to expert extremely stressful. Many new nurses may feel undervalued and neglected by some colleagues who are more experienced and some may face unjust criticism, as well as rude and humiliating verbal statements. With bullying as a stressful experience, new nurses view the transition phase as anxiety provoking and not at all something to look forward to on a daily basis.

As stated by one new staff nurse: “we have to stand on our own two feet now; rather than saying, I am a grad and acting dumb. You just have to stand on your own two feet and stand your ground.” Even if the transition phase is stressful, new nurses have to undergo them in order to start their career. New nurses must face the transition phase with grace under pressure, overcome the fear, and have an ounce of faith knowing that the beginning stage too shall pass.

Congratulations to all new graduates!

– The RotationManager.com Team

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