Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Nursing


Despite the considerable reform in nursing education and graduate transition programmes and the commitment of academics to prepare competent registered nurses (RNs), the debate regarding graduate RN practice readiness continues to linger. Such debate is in part reflective of a difference in opinion between nurses in education and practice sectors, as to whether recently graduated RNs are in fact practice ready. In order to understand this longstanding debate, a Grounded Theory study was undertaken. The study explored the perspectives of nurse unit managers (NUMs) as representatives of the practice sector and Bachelor of Nursing programme coordinators (BNPCs) as representatives of the education sector regarding newly graduated RN practice readiness within the Australian context. The process of theoretical sampling; theoretical saturation; theoretical sensitivity; constant comparative analysis; open, selective and theoretical coding; and memoing were utilised. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with sixteen BNPCs and NUMs from across the country. NVivo™ (version 9) was used to manage the significant volume of data and to facilitate the process of data analysis and coding.

The research resulted in the conceptual emergence of the substantive theory Practice Readiness: A Nebulous Construct, which explains how practice readiness, as it relates to newly graduated RNs in the Australian context, is viewed through different lenses in the practice and education sectors. The theory elucidates how participants’ epistemological dissonance due to contextual influences that are pragmatic and are shaped by their Inhabiting Disparate Realities, serve to perpetuate the longstanding debate that recently graduated RNs are not practice ready.

It is anticipated that the findings from this study will inform a national debate and discussion regarding the nursing curricula, the nature of partnerships between the education and practice sectors, and the nature of what is expected of novice graduate RNs within practice settings. This new knowledge has the scope to enhance the transition experiences of newly graduated RNs and as such enhance their retention in the workforce. Additionally, this will translate to the delivery of cost effective, high quality healthcare in Australia.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.