Poster Presentation

Monday, November 5, 2007
10:30 AM - 11:45 AM

Monday, November 5, 2007
1:45 PM - 3:00 PM

This presentation is part of : Rising Stars Posters
Expanding My Horizons: Registered Nurses Returning for Graduate Study after a Long Absence
Sheri S. Webster, RN, MSN, CSPI, School of Nursing, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA
Learning Objective #1: explore qualitative research as a research methodology.
Learning Objective #2: recognize the impact returning to graduate school has on the personal and professional lives of nurses who pursue advanced practice educational opportunities

Purpose: Nursing literature evidences a significant time lapse between registered nurses’ undergraduate degrees and their entrance to graduate school. The aim of this study was to explore and illuminate the lived experiences of registered nurses (RNs) who returned for graduate study after nine or more years from the academic setting.

Method: Husserlian phenomenology provided the methodological framework for this qualitative research study. Using purposive sampling, RNs employed by three large metropolitan hospitals and two colleges of nursing located in the southeastern United States were interviewed. Data were collected until saturation was complete with 10 participants. All participants were female and their ages ranged from 36-57 years with a mean age of 51 years. The youngest participant was 36 years of age with the next oldest being 49 years old, thus explaining the relatively high mean age of 51 years in relationship to the range. Audiotapes of the interviews were transcribed verbatim and the narratives were analyzed using Streubert’s procedural interpretation of phenomenological methodology. Validity and trustworthiness were established through member check letters, affirming the themes and subthemes discovered by the researcher. Findings: Two major themes with five subthemes emerged: (1) Decision making with subthemes of internal motivation and value system influence, and (2) life altering event with subthemes of temporary adjustments, professional negotiation, and shift in praxis. Implications: Due to a lack of published research on this phenomenon, this study is significant as it provides a basis for further research. These descriptions may offer insight to educators, healthcare employers, nurses, and their families in the development of strategies to recruit, educate, and support nurses returning for their advanced degrees.