Study seeks to ease nursing grads’ workplace transition

4 September 2013

BC’s health authorities will be able to look to a “best practice toolkit” for recommendations to ensure the smooth transition of newly graduated nurses into the workplace, thanks to the findings of a new MSFHR-funded study.

The toolkit represents the outcome of a three-phase study of nursing transition programs led by UBC Okanagan nursing researcher Kathy Rush and Interior Health professional practice lead Monica Adamack. The researchers combined an extensive literature review with focus groups and interviews across BC’s health authorities to synthesize recommendations that reflect best practice for BC’s nursing graduate transition programs.

Among the report’s recommendations is an emphasis on practical, hands-on learning opportunities in nursing education to help bridge identified gaps between theory and practice. The authors also encourage the strengthening of formal support for nursing graduates, including mentorship that extends at least six months post-hiring.

In light of bullying and harassment reported by 39 percent of new graduates, the report calls for a zero-tolerance policy towards workplace bullying and for organizations to strive to maintain healthy clinical unit work environments.

Overall, the researchers found evidence that transition programs improve nurse retention and decrease turnover, leading them to recommend that all nursing graduates participate in a formal program.

This study represents an attempt to examine strengths and gaps in new graduate transition programs in each BC health authority and identify best practices that can be applied province-wide. A broad range of perspectives were obtained through an online survey – completed by 257 nursing graduates – and 23 focus group sessions involving nursing graduates, nurse managers, and transition program coordinators.

The project was funded by MSFHR through the BC Nursing Research Initiative. Provincial oversight was provided by a steering committee consisting of the leads of nursing graduate programs in BC’s seven health authorities.