The purpose of this follow-up study, conducted 4 years after the initial study, was to elicit the recollections of English graduate nurses regarding their first year as qualified nurses in hospital nursing The method was qualitative, specifically a grounded theory approach was used The design was retrospective The initial study took place when informants were in their final year before graduation The follow-up study began after informants had been practising for between 3 and 4 years Data were collected through semi-structured, indepth, audio-taped interviews and were analysed through the constant comparative classification of patterns and themes Research questions were ‘what do graduates nurses recall about their first year of practice in hospital nursing?’ and ‘what do they perceive as the difficulties of maintaining their standards?’ Findings revealed the core variable as role stress The stressful experience of living up to their individual perceptions of the role of being a graduate nurse was related to the influence of educational socialization, self-expectations, and nursing management expectations