Publication Details

Kinghorn, G. R., Halcomb, E. J., Froggatt, T. & Thomas, S. DM. (2017). Transitioning into new clinical areas of practice: an integrative review of the literature. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 26 (23-24), 4223-4233.


Aims and objectives: To critically synthesise research related to the transition of registered nurses into new areas of clinical practice.

Background: Global workforce shortages and rising healthcare demands have encouraged registered nurses to move into new clinical settings. While a body of literature reports on the transition of newly qualified nurses, evidence surrounding the transition of more experienced registered nurses to new clinical areas remains poorly explored.

Design: An integrative review was conducted, guided by Whittemore and Knafl (Journal of Advanced Nursing, 52, 2005, 546) framework.

Methods: An electronic database search was conducted for papers published between 1996-2016. Papers were then subjected to a methodological quality appraisal, with findings synthesised using thematic analysis into core themes.

Results: Ten articles met the inclusion criteria. Three themes emerged, namely Support, Professional Development and Emotional Impact. These themes suggest that transitioning nurses experience challenges in adapting to new clinical areas and developing necessary skills. Such challenges prompted various emotional and physical responses. While formal and informal support systems were regarded as valuable by transitioning nurses, they were inconsistent across the new clinical areas.

Conclusions: There is some evidence to highlight the initial shock and emotional stress experienced by registered nurses during transition to a new clinical area. However, the influence of formal and informal support systems for such registered nurses is far from conclusive. Further research is needed, to examine registered nurse transition into a variety of clinical areas to inform workforce support, policy and practices.

Relevance to clinical practice :The demand of health care is growing while global shortages of nursing workforce remain. To ensure retention and enhance the transition experience of registered nurses, it is important for nurse leaders, managers and policymakers to understand the transition experience and factors that impact this experience.



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