Transition to practice experiences of first- and second-career nurses: A mixed-methods study

Jessica G. Rainbow, Linsey M. Steege

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Aims and objectives: To explore the transition to nursing practice experiences of first- and second-career nursing students. Background: To address the nursing shortage, alternative educational programmes have been increasingly developed and implemented with to help individuals with prior career experiences transition into a career in nursing (second-career nurses). However, we know little about the transition to practice experiences of second-career nurses. Design: This mixed-methods study utilised qualitative interviews with nurses who had completed a year of practice and a longitudinal survey of nurses’ perceptions of stress, coping and burnout throughout their first year of nursing practice. Methods: Qualitative data (n = 15) were analysed using latent thematic analysis and following COREQ guidelines. Descriptive and effect size analysis of quantitative data (n = 122) was conducted in order to assess for significant differences across time points. Results: The thematic analysis identified three themes: Stressors and Coping, Prevalence of Burnout and Presenteeism, and Difficulty Describing Nursing’s Role. The quantitative findings showed that participants’ self-compassion decreased over their first year of practice. Levels of stress, presenteeism and burnout increased by the year mark. These increases were meaningfully significant between time points. Conclusions: Differences in the stressors and coping of first- and second-career nurses should be considered in developing transition to practice programmes for new nurses. Increasing rates of stress, burnout and presenteeism highlight the ongoing need to address these issues. Improving the nurse work environment may aid in the transition to nursing practice of both first- and second-career nurses. Relevance to clinical practice: First- and second-career nurses have increasing rates of stress, burnout and presenteeism that need to be addressed. However, there are differences in stressors and coping between first- and second-career nurses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1193-1204
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • burnout
  • coping
  • graduate nurses
  • registered nurses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing

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