Apart from the problem of nursing shortage, which still remains an unresolved issue, employers face additional challenges such as helping nursing graduates to apply what they have learnt into real-world practice. For employers, it is important for newly hired nurses to quickly adapt to their work environment and be able to perform their duties in an excellent way.

Here we will further discuss the challenges faced by nursing graduates when they enter the nursing profession and consider the strategies to solve the problem.

What are the challenges newly licensed nurses have to face?

To implement the strategies that can help nursing graduates to effectively assimilate into their work environment and perform their nursing tasks successfully, employers have to be aware of the real challenges that they encounter.

For example, the healthcare industry on a global scale is currently facing an increased number of patients with complex medical conditions and multiple comorbidities, lack of access to experienced mentors and coaches, and bullying. Over time, this has led to increased fatigue for novice nurses, and eventually has led to increased stress levels and burnout.

Facing immense stress will negatively impact nurses’ job performance and may even place patient safety at risk. With these challenges, effective solutions need to be put in place so that these nurses are able to work independently.

Mentor-mentee programme

Implementing a mentoring programme for nurses has been found as the best method to support new nurses in adapting to their work environment. Achieving competency and confidence are two objectives that novice nurses must work towards.

Employers must acknowledge that it is tough for nursing graduates to reach both objectives, which makes it crucial for them to provide a mentor who can guide them to get through the real challenges of the workplace.

The mentor should be a senior nurse, as he or she would have several years of working experience. To support these programmes, a mentoring guideline based on the mentor-mentee models should be provided by the organisation. For instance, in 2000, Morton-Cooper and Palmer introduced a mentorship model that includes three phases.

The first phase stressed the importance of effective communication skills in establishing interpersonal relationships; the second phase, also known as collaboration phase, is a stage of teaching-learning sessions where the mentor and novice collaborate; the final phase, which is the autonomous phase, allows the novice to be given more independence in delivering patient care.

Transition to practice programme

Apart from mentoring, a structured and planned approach called a ‘transition to practice’ programme is another measure that can help nurses to transit successfully to workplaces. The programme structure is evidence-based as it is organised with the aim of supporting nurses’ education needs during the transition phase, as well as strengthen their confidence and competence upon entering the clinical setting.

This programme has been supporting in several nursing literature as it has been proven to stabilise nursing retention, improve new graduate nurses’ engagement in clinical teaching and enhance patient safety and level of satisfaction.

Encouraging nurses to pursue advanced degrees

Nursing schools may produce a large number of nursing graduates every year, but not all graduates have critical thinking skills that are imperative in synthesising evidence-based information and solving clinical problems.

This requires a nurse to attain advanced degrees as their scope of study entails nurses to think out of the box, develop decision making skills and instills leadership capabilities. To support nurses in pursuing higher levels of education, nurse leaders in every medical facility should provide flexible scheduling, tuition reimbursement, access to computers, and partnerships with universities to facilitate ongoing educational achievement.

Shared governance

Improving the confidence and competency of novice nurses in care practices should not be confined to mentoring and training through practice programmes, but also through clinical decision making. Apart from confidence, new RNs earn more respect from their team members, leading them to feel more empowered and improving staff engagement.

This, in turn, will allow new graduate nurses to manage the stresses and complexities of today’s healthcare environment. Involving new RNs in clinical decision making promotes a professional work atmosphere.

High nurse turnover and less nurse retention has remained prevalent issues over the years. In response to these matters, strategic implementation of specific programmes that focus on building new nursing graduates’ confidence and competence should be embraced. MIMS

Read more:
6 non-clinical nursing career options
How can a nursing degree lead to a career as a nursing educator?
How nurses can advance in their career

Hofler, L. (2016). Transition of New Graduate Nurses to the Workforce: Challenges and Solutions in the Changing Health Care Environment. North Carolina Medical Journal, 77 (2), 133-136. Retrieved from http://www.ncmedicaljournal.com/content/77/2/133.full
Fink, R., Krugman, M., Casey, K., & Goode, C. (2008). The graduate nurse experience: qualitative residency program outcomes. J Nurs Adm. 38(7-8):341-348.
Morton-Cooper, A., & Palmer, A. (2000). Mentoring, Preceptorship and Clinical Supervision: A Guide to Professional Roles in Clinical Practice. 2nd ed. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Science
Tunc, T., & Kutanis, R.O. (2009).Role conflict, role ambiguity, and burnout in nurses and physicians at a university hospital in Turkey. Nurs Health Sci. 11(4):410-416