The first year as a graduate nurse – an experience of growth and development


  • Sigrid Wangensteen RN, MSN,

  • IS Johansson TD, PhD,

  • G Nordström RN, PhD

Sigrid Wangensteen
Doctoral student
Gjøvik University College
Box 191
N-2802 Gjøvik
Telephone: +47 611 35356/+47 951 32956


Aim.  The aim of this paper was to illuminate how recently graduated nurses experience their first year as a nurse.

Background.  Graduate nurses are expected to identify themselves as members of an interdisciplinary team, to feel comfortable in chaos and to make and defend decisions. By graduation nurses expect to have the necessary competence to perform nursing. Recently graduated nurses lack competence, especially relating to leadership.

Design.  A qualitative design was chosen and 12 nurses working in hospitals and home care were individually interviewed.

Method.  The interviews were transcribed verbatim and the texts were analysed using manifest and latent content analysis.

Results.  The nurses gave descriptions covering numerous experiences, interpreted and categorised in the following eight subcategories: uncertainty and chaos; need for induction; need for a supportive environment; need for recognition; awareness of responsibility; need for positive experiences; becoming experienced; and managing challenges. These subcategories gave reason for the three categories: experience of being new; gaining nurse experience; and gaining competence. The nurses described a tough start as a nurse, but they most of all gave descriptions interpreted as an experience of growth and development, which constituted the theme in this study.

Conclusions.  Recently graduated nurses have a positive attitude to the challenges of being a new nurse. Although the initial period as a nurse was tough, the nurses appreciated their experiences because they learnt from them.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Recently graduated nurses should be spared from being the only nurse on duty. Employers both in hospital and home care should facilitate induction programmes for new graduate nurses.