Publication Details

Ashley, C., Brown, A., Halcomb, E. & Peters, K. (2018). Registered nurses transitioning from acute care to primary healthcare employment: A qualitative insight into nurses’ experiences. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27 (3-4), 661-668.


Aims and objectives: To describe the experiences of acute care registered nurses transitioning to primary healthcare settings.

Background: The worldwide increasing demand for primary healthcare services has resulted in skilled acute care nurses transitioning to primary healthcare settings to meet workforce requirements. Little is known about the experiences and challenges associated with the transition. Knowledge of this will enable employers to design appropriate support processes and transitioning nurses can make informed choices.

Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with nurses who had transitioned into primary healthcare employment in the last 5 years. Data analysis was undertaken using Braun and Clarke's (2006) thematic analysis approach.

Results: Thirteen nurses were interviewed, and two themes identified-role learning: the new environment, and role socialisation: transition validation. Role learning was influenced according to the quality of orientation programmes, previous experience, clinical knowledge and professional support. Support and professional respect from mentors and/or employers greatly assisted with role socialisation and the transition experience.

Conclusions: Transitioning to primary healthcare employment provides unique challenges which must be considered by employers if they are to attract and retain experienced acute care registered nurses.

Relevance to Clinical Practice: Understanding the experiences of nurses who transition from acute to primary healthcare employment can inform the design of orientation programmes and ongoing professional supports to address barriers and challenges. Targeted orientation and support has the potential to enhance recruitment and retention of experienced nurses in primary health care.



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