Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing Education

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College of Nursing

First Advisor

Marcella Rutherford

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


Forty years after Kramer's (1974) seminal work, Reality Shock, new graduate nurses continue to have difficulty transitioning to the registered nurse (RN) role. The purpose of this phenomenological study explores the lived experience of new graduate nurses who completed a Veterans Affairs externship program in their senior year of nursing coursework and its perceived impact on their successful transition into the practice role 3-24 months following graduation. Benner's (1984) Novice-to-Expert Model, Karmer's (1974) Reality Shock Theory, and Selder's (1989) Life Transition Theory support a framework for this study. Twelve telephone interviews were conducted using van Manen's (1990) method for researching the lived experience. One overarching theme "feeling confident" and three main categories, "transitioning to the RN role," "making decisions," and "interacting with professionals," were identified from the data. Externship programs assist the student to comfortably and smoothly transition as a new graduate nurse by offering additional clinical and practice experiences. Given the complexity of today's health care environment, there is a growing need to better prepare the graduate nurse for their transition into nursing practice. Externship programs can serve this purpose.




Health and environmental sciences, Education, Baccalaureate of science in nursing, New graduate nurse, Nursing education, Nursing externship, Nursing residency, Transition-to-practice



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