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  1. Godinez, Gwendolyn MSN, RN, CPHQ
  2. Schweiger, Janice MSN, RN, CNS, CCTC
  3. Gruver, Julie BSN, RN, C
  4. Ryan, Polly PhD, RN


The purpose of this study was to describe the initial steps in the role transition of graduate to staff nurse. During the first 3 weeks of an orientation to a clinical unit in an acute care hospital, graduate nurses and their preceptors used feedback sheets to document the learning activities of the graduate nurse, communicate the need for and evaluation of learning experiences, and plan activities to meet the continued needs of graduate nurses. Daily feedback sheets from 27 orientees and preceptors were analyzed using content analysis. A model representing the process and components of role transition was developed. The model was based on five themes which emerged from the data: Real Nurse Work, Guidance, Transitional Processes, Institutional Context, and Interpersonal Dynamics. Analysis of results revealed that the initial transition of a graduate nurse to the role of a staff nurse was a dynamic and interactive process occurring between the graduate nurse and the preceptor. Guided learning led to progress in balancing increasingly complex care within a specific institution. Interpersonal dynamics among staff, preceptors, and graduate nurses affected the process of role transition.


The Journal for Nurses in Staff Development is pleased to offer a continuing education opportunity to those who read this article and complete the application form on page 135. This continuing education offering (code number JNSD-45) will provide 1 contact hour to those who complete it appropriately (see the application form for further details).