• lived nursing experience;
  • phenomenology;
  • professional socialization;
  • clinical education;
  • death and dying;
  • recruitment and retention;
  • health policy;
  • adult learners

A phenomenological study of early nursing experiences in Hong Kong

The experience of primary professional socialization is crucial for neophytes to learn to become a nurse. These early nursing encounters may also have long-term effects on professional development of individual nurses. However, research into the early experiences of nurses has been poorly documented. This study endeavours to reveal the early lived nursing experience amongst a group of nurses in Hong Kong. This study adopts a phenomenological approach which involves the thematic analysis of the critical incidents provided by 77 subjects. Findings revealed that incidents associated with death and dying, and clinical learning embracing interpersonal relations and professional development, were the most memorable events. Nurses were in general not equipped adequately to communicate with the dying and the grieving relatives. The subjects disclosed that positive clinical encounters confirmed their value of nursing work and motivated them to stay in the profession. Conversely, the negative experiences made them seriously consider leaving nursing. A number of implications for nursing education have been drawn from the research findings.