Background. Over a short period of time a number of nurses had joined the staff at a hospice. Many of these nurses were palliative care novices, and thus their transition into hospice nursing constituted a move both to a new workplace and a new clinical specialism.
Aim. The aim of the study was to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of qualified nurses making the transition into hospice nursing in order to support future nurses in this transition.
Method. A constructivist approach was used; data were collected through semi-structured interviews with four new nurses, three mentors and four team leaders. Data were analysed using a constant comparative method.
Findings. Five major themes were identified: expectations, personal and professional development, professional respect, mentorship and support. Nurses came to the hospice with individual expectations, some of which were realized. All identified areas of personal and professional development. Whilst it was acknowledged that new nurses brought transferable skills, there was consensus that they needed to develop palliative care knowledge and skills. Professional respect was demonstrated by the degree of acceptance or questioning of new nurses by established staff. New nurses experienced a variety of emotional responses to hospice nursing. Mentorship enhanced the transition experience and strong support was also gained from each other.
Conclusions. New nurses need individual support during their transition into hospice nursing in response to their own expectations, experiences and learning needs. Mentors need preparation and support in their role in order to maximize their positive influence on transitions.