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'Onboard' New Nurses to Prevent Them from Jumping Ship

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, September 7, 2010

Shock phase: This is the most dangerous period. After the honeymoon phase has worn off, new graduate nurses are overwhelmed with their clinical responsibilities and perceive the realities of the work environment, including stressed out staff, difficult patients, regulatory burdens, and too few resources. They have likely been exposed to nurse-to-nurse hostility, whether as witnesses or as victims. They may have witnessed or endured a situation with a rude or demeaning physician.

Recovery phase: In this phase, new nurses become more used to the environment and can see both its positives and negatives. They are becoming more competent in their practice.

Resolution phase: The final stage is resolution, where new nurses reach the point of fitting into the environment. They may adopt the beliefs and values of their coworkers as a way to fit in, which can be problematic if their fellow nurses display negative behavior such as horizontal hostility, gossip, or poor communication skills.

During the period from honeymoon to resolution, new graduate nurses need experienced preceptors and mentors to help them understand what they are going through, provide guidance and answers to questions, and generally deal with the transition. It's a make or break period when new graduate nurses are most vulnerable to an organization's culture. Entrenched nurse-to-nurse hostility or the one physician who everyone dreads can be the turning point for already overwhelmed new nurses to acquiesce and follow the herd, or jump ship to a better environment at the earliest opportunity.

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