Title of Article‘Happy, excited, terrified’ feelings from the floor: a phenomenological inquiry into the lived experiences of nurses who transition from student to registered nurse
Type of ArticleOriginal Article
Author/sMichele Hardiman, Judy Watkin, Hector Belmonte Barbosa, Nicola Heneghan, Michelle McHugh and Joselle Ntumba
ReferenceVolume 12, Issue 2, Article 5
Date of PublicationNovember 2022
KeywordsGraduate nurses, person-centredness, supported protected time


Background: There has been a recent focus in the literature on newly graduated nurses and the reasons why many are leaving the profession in the first year of practice. Some have reported physical, emotional and social upheaval, with a number deciding not to continue.

Aim: This research aims to explore the lived experiences of graduate nurses during the first six months of their new role within a person-centred graduate programme, and to enable graduate nurses to explore and learn from those experiences by participating as co-researchers in the programme.

Methods: This study is underpinned by person-centred and participative research methods. Graduate nurses became co-researchers and participated in the collection and analysis of data relating to their own and their colleagues’ experiences, using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach.


  • Healthful and empowering relationships in the workplace provided a psychologically safe space for graduate nurses to grow into their role
  • Providing paid protected time supported the transition from novice to confident staff nurse
  • Being co-researchers provided the graduate nurses with awareness of the need to evaluate their practice and to use evidence to inform practice

Conclusion: This study suggests newly qualified nurses need more than skills training to progress in their new registered nurse role. Protected time, empathetic colleagues and a person-centred culture enabled the nurses to socialise into their new roles. Nurturing graduate nurses, providing time and a psychologically safe space, has the potential to benefit the individual and also the organisation in attracting and retaining staff.

Implications for practice:

  • Nurturing graduate nurses can play an important role in supporting the sustainability of the nursing workforce and enhancing person-centred care
  • Structured facilitative and person-centred graduate programmes that integrate theory, clinical skills and psychological awareness are important in enabling graduate nurses to gain confidence personally and professionally
  • Further research and creative and participative programmes are needed to support graduate nurses to remain in the profession

This article by Michele Hardiman, Judy Watkin, Hector Belmonte Barbosa, Nicola Heneghan, Michelle McHugh and Joselle Ntumba is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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