JOURNAL ARTICLE

Undergraduate student nurses' expectations and their self-reported preparedness for the graduate year role

L Heslop, M McIntyre, G Ives
Journal of Advanced Nursing 2001, 36 (5): 626-34
11737494

AIMS OF THE STUDY: The study identifies third-year nurses' expectations of the graduate nurse role and ascertains how prepared they feel to fulfil this role.

BACKGROUND: The literature substantiates that the university-workplace transition is marked by differences between students' expectations of the graduate year and the realities of practice they encounter in the workforce setting. Nursing professionals and health service employers continue to debate the expectations required of the new nurse graduate. Yet there is little assessment of graduate nurses' expectations of the workplace. This study describes student nurses' expectations of the graduate year and the extent to which they regard themselves as well- or ill-prepared.

DESIGN: Third-year student nurses (n=105) from a 3-year Bachelor of Nursing (BN) course at a large Metropolitan University in Australia were surveyed. A group of nursing academics and their senior colleagues in the clinical setting designed a questionnaire in light of common themes derived from literature on the graduate year role. Responses were examined and analysed using descriptive statistics.

RESULTS: Responses revealed that student nurses tended to favour large public hospitals, and sought a good graduate programme with associated opportunities for guidance and support. Most expected to achieve good working relationships with both professional colleagues and patients. Final year students expressed some apprehension about meeting the performance expectations of the workplace, given their self-perceived lack of clinical experience.

CONCLUSION: When asked about their initial expectations of the workplace, third year student nurses expressed little apprehension and reported high levels on scales of organizational commitment and professionalism. The research literature suggests that divisions exist between students' expectations of the graduate year and the actual work experience. The expectations of the graduate year described in this study offer a student-centred perspective that contributes to future planning and policy directions of undergraduate curricula, graduate year programmes and nurse retention.

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