Monday, 26 June 2017

Stress in newly qualified nurses

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Nurses are know to suffer stress and the period after qualification and entering clinical practice is an especially stressful period. This UK study by Halpin et al (2017) and published in JAN aimed to: 'investigate transition in newly qualified nurses through an exploration of their stressors and stress experiences during their first 12 months postqualifying.' The study was titled: 'A longitudinal, mixed methods investigation of newly qualified nurses’ workplace stressors and stress experiences during transition.'

Nearly 300 nurses completed a stress questoinnaire and were interviewed when they qualified and were followed up at 6 (over 100 nurses) and 12 months (over 80 nurses) after qualifying. While stress did not change significantly over the study, at each phase of the study 'workload' was the highest source of stress. Nurses reported being 'terrified' at the start; as one nurse said: 'When you first start obviously you are terrified because you are suddenly feeling responsible for everybody, all your patients. Just the overall feeling of the weight of responsibility, that stresses me.' They also did not like appearing not to know everything and one nurse said: 'It’s quite hard to say to some people, ‘sorry, I’m newly qualified’ because they just want answers then and there, so that’s added stress as well for me.'

In the words of the authors: 'Many of the stressors experienced by the participants had the potential to inhibit a successful transition. The results showed that the participants experienced a broad range of stressors throughout their first 12 months postqualifying resonating with the outcome of previous international studies...' In conclusion, the authors said: 'Planned, regular, constructive feedback from the (newly qualified nurse)’s manager would assist with personal development and the early identification of work-related stressors. Organization based training to improve effective and civil team-working together with a clear strategy to report and address incivility would also be beneficial. Healthcare experience prior to commencing nurse education appears to be a personal asset and is worthy of further research as it implies a change to pre-registration recruitment strategies should be considered.'

You can listen to this as a podcast

Reference

Halpin, Y., Terry, L. M. and Curzio, J. (2017), A longitudinal, mixed methods investigation of newly qualified nurses’ workplace stressors and stress experiences during transition. J Adv Nurs doi:10.1111/jan.13344

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