1. Jones, Jamie L. PhD, RN, CNE
  2. Barone, Claudia DNP, EdD, APRN, CCNS-BC, CTTS
  3. Brown, Lana M. PhD, RN, NEA-BC, VHA-CM
  4. Wright, Patricia PhD, MPH, RN
  5. Mitchell, Anita PhD, RN
  6. Ray, Trenda PhD, RN


Background: To provide patient- and family-centered care, health care providers must understand the caregiver experience. Evidence suggests that registered nurses functioning as family caregivers (RNFCs) may have unique experiences and challenges.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of RNFCs during an adult family member's episode of care in the southern United States.


Methods: A descriptive phenomenological approach was used to describe the essence of the RNFC experience throughout an episode of care. Twenty-five participants were recruited for semistructured, audio-recorded interviews. Data were analyzed using descriptive data analysis and constant comparison techniques.


Results: Participants were predominantly female (88%). The essence of the phenomenon was dual roles. Five themes emerged: (1) blurring the boundaries, (2) revealing my identity, (3) having insider knowledge, (4) managing expectations, and (5) learning from my experience.


Conclusions: While caregiver experiences may be similar, RNFCs struggle with dual roles of registered nurse and caregiver, occasionally blurring boundaries of care.