Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Stacy Wahl


After nursing school, graduate nurses complete a licensure examination to demonstrate possession of the minimal knowledge necessary to practice nursing. Even with the successful completion of the examination, many new graduate nurses still lack the competencies required for safe practice. This discrepancy between demonstrated knowledge and competent practice, which is termed a transition-to-practice gap, is a safety issue especially for persons with chronic illnesses. The purpose of this study was to identify and clarify this transition gap to determine possible solutions in the local setting of a large health care system. The theoretical model framing this investigation was Benner's novice to expert theory. A descriptive case study was used to answer the research question regarding which competencies new graduate nurses should possess to facilitate their transition from an educational setting to a practice setting. Purposeful sampling yielded 4 nursing staff educators who had worked with graduate nurses in the past 12 months. Data from interviews with participants were coded using in vivo, initial, and axial coding. Participants reported that graduate nurses lacked adequate communication, socialization, and technical skills. Poor communication and socialization proficiencies compromised collaborative patient care, while the absence of technical skills such as physical assessment impaired direct patient care. Findings supported the development of a transition-to-practice course to prepare graduate nurses to provide quality health care. The implications of social change resulting from this transition-to-practice course may include the positive transformation of new graduate nurses, the improved professional nursing practice setting, and the positive health outcomes of community members.

Included in

Nursing Commons