Learning Objective 1: Describe the process of transition which beginning baccalaureate nursing students encounter as they enter clinical practice.
Learning Objective 2: Describe actions which will improve the clinical transitional process for beginning nursing students.
Methods: Data were collected from three cohorts of baccalaureate nursing students (N = 120) in two university settings in the first semester following completion of first patient care experiences. A grounded theory approach was used in the qualitative analysis of written participant narratives.
Results: Themes and categories of responses emerged through qualitative data analysis. Data analysis revealed consistent patterns of responses in students, with identification of specific actions from clinical staff or clinical instructors which enhanced or detracted from the quality of their initial experiences. Anxiety and fear before and during the clinical experience were consistently expressed. Students also described reduction in fear at the conclusion of their first patient care experiences, as well as affirmation of their nursing career choice.
Conclusion: Based on the data, an emerging model for transitioning students into practice will be discussed. Specific recommendations for improving the overall experience in the first clinical setting for beginning baccalaureate nursing students will be suggested through collaboration between education and practice partners. Recommendations will be made for additional nursing research. Improving the quality and nature of first patient care experiences will provide a strong foundation for beginning practitioners, and foster a strong, positive clinical role development.
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