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‘It was quite a shock’: A qualitative study of the impact of organisational and personal factors on newly qualified nurses' experiences

Stenhouse, Rosie; Ho, Szu?Szu; Snowden, Austyn


Rosie Stenhouse

Szu?Szu Ho


Background: Nurses are critical to achieving the goal of universal health coverage. However, shortages of nursing staff are endemic. Of particular concern, newly qualified nurses are more likely to leave the nursing workforce. The point of transition to working as a newly qualified nurse is a time of vulnerability. Most studies attempt to discover why nurses leave. This study uses the concept of job embeddedness to examine the experience of this transition and first two years of practice to understand what might help newly qualified nurses stay.
Aim: To understand the experience of the transition into the role of newly qualified nurse, and the organisational and personal factors that influence this.
Design: Qualitative study with a sample of 23 nurses who participated in semi-structured telephone interviews 1-year (n=12) and 2 years (n=12) post-qualification. Participants were part of a larger longitudinal cohort (n=867) study which has followed them since September 2013 when they entered nurse education in two Scottish universities. Thematic analysis was used to understand the interplay between organisation/workplace and the individual.
Findings: Three themes were developed: transition shock; workplace factors; and work/life balance. Two further subthemes were developed: experience of support and belonging; and feeling unsupported and alienated. Eight participants had changed job or left, and two were looking to leave nursing.
Conclusion: This study highlights how the experience of transition shock can be positively or negatively impacted by the workplace environment, and how in turn this impacts the home environment. Ultimately this impacts retention of newly qualified nurses.
Relevance to clinical practice: Having adequate support resources, such as staffing, supportive team morale, professional development, and family-friendly work environment, can create a work environment where they feel the purpose and meaningfulness of working as a nurse. This ‘job embeddedness’ can potentially enhance nurse retention.


Ho, S., Stenhouse, R., & Snowden, A. (2021). ‘It was quite a shock’: A qualitative study of the impact of organisational and personal factors on newly qualified nurses' experiences. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 30(15-16), 2373-2385.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 30, 2021
Online Publication Date May 5, 2021
Publication Date 2021-08
Deposit Date Mar 30, 2021
Publicly Available Date May 6, 2022
Journal Journal of Clinical Nursing
Print ISSN 0962-1067
Electronic ISSN 1365-2702
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 15-16
Pages 2373-2385
Keywords Qualitative, Job embeddedness, Newly qualified nurses, Retention, Transition
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Copyright Statement
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution?NonCommercial?NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non?commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

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