The experience of a good day: a phenomenological study to explain a good day as experienced by a newly qualified RN

Carole Jackson
International Journal of Nursing Studies 2005, 42 (1): 85-95
The main aim of this study was to provide an explanation of the newly qualified nurse's experience and description of a good day. Secondly it sought to provide an explanation of how a good day made them feel about nursing. By identifying the main components of a good day and what positively effects the experience of a working day for a newly qualified nurse, it may be possible to move towards an increase in the occurrence of the components and emulation of a good day. While there is evidence to suggest that positive experiences within nursing increase job satisfaction and aid retention to the profession, the experience of a good day and what constitutes a good day for a newly qualified nurse has not been explored. The main components of a good day have not been identified and no work has been carried out to ascertain how these days make nurses feel about their chosen career. The aims of the study lent themselves to a phenomenological descriptive approach to research, the objective of which is identification of the essence of behaviour. Eight newly qualified nurses agreed to take part in the research. Each participant was interviewed twice, and in addition one group interview was arranged to clarify themes. The interviews, which were audio taped, were informal allowing the participants to answer in an open and unstructured manner. Once completed, all the tapes were transcribed and immersion and analysis of the data led to 5 themes naturally emerging as the components of a good day. The identified themes were, doing something well, good relationships with patients, feeling that you've achieved something, getting the work done and you need team work. In addition, although not a theme of a good day but of great importance was the description of 'that wonderful feeling at the end of a good day'. These themes contributed to feelings of job satisfaction and the pleasure of nursing. More specifically the concept of knowing the patient both from a personal level and knowing about their care and condition has been identified as a main component of a good day. This knowing the patient had a knock on effect in that when this was part of the day it was easier to prioritise and get the work done. These nurses were striving to develop a level of care and competency and, unlike expert nurses, did not have vast experience and knowledge to underpin their actions. They need to ensure that all levels of knowledge are addressed before they can carry out care. Additionally the team dynamics and the way the team work together had a significant effect on the day.

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