Transition from Student Nurse to Professional Nurse: Induction and Professional Development Support of Newly Qualified Professional Nurses

Saturday, 7 November 2015: 3:15 PM

Memme Girly Makua, BCur, MCur, RN
Department of Health Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria, South Africa


There is poor retention of graduates by the Public Health Sector in all health disciplines in South Africa (SA). Compulsory community service was introduced to curb the shortage of personnel. This forms the first formal work experience for the newly qualified health professionals, including newly qualified professional nurses. The compulsory community service is served for a period of one year in public healthcare institutions, before the graduate can obtain final registration with the respective health professions council, like the South African Nursing Council (SANC) for nurses and midwives.

 In order for this first impression to have good memories and a positive impact for these nurses, the healthcare institution has to provide a structured formal transition program that will significantly improve retention and productivity. To undergo a smooth transition, newly qualified professional nurses need clinical learning support from the organization. Organizational support influences their effectiveness and job satisfaction. The first three to twelve months of employment is stressful and the experiences of this period profoundly influence the careers of the newly qualified professional nurses.

For the first six months of practice, newly qualified professional nurses mostly focus on learning their new roles, the policies and procedures of the practice setting. Induction and professional development support facilitate the transition from being a student nurse to a professional nurse, as well as to enhance clinical competence and professional socialization.  


To describe the induction and professional development support given to newly qualified professional nurses during the compulsory community service in South Africa.

To describe the ideal but practical induction and professional development support suggested by operational nurse managers to enhance the role transition of newly qualified professional nurses.


The study design is a mixed method of concurrent triangulation approach. The presentation is from part of the qualitative findings, the focus groups. Six focus group discussions consisting of five operational nurse managers per group, from various levels of health care institutions of South Africa, were held to explore the experiences of the operational nurse managers during their supervision of the newly qualified professional nurses serving the compulsory community service.


The induction has been reported as not being standardized in the healthcare institutions and professional development support ranging from ‘on the spot teaching’,  to ‘pairing of novice with expert’ where possible due to the shortage of personnel.

Some operational nurse managers expressed the view that, it is a waste of patient care time to mentor the newly qualified professional nurses during community service as they might not apply for a permanent post with the same institution on completion of the community service

Operational nurse managers agreed unanimously that they should create supportive practice environments that facilitate newly qualified professional nurses’ integration into the healthcare institutions, and ensure a smooth transition from student to professional.


 A formal structured induction and professional development support for newly qualified professional nurses can be a positive professional socialization experience that can lead to confident, competent, independent as well as safe nurse practitioners. It might even reduce the high attrition rate of newly qualified professional nurses that is facing communities globally.