What Newly Licensed Registered Nurses Have to Say about Their First Experiences


More than 85,000 nurses graduated in 2005, which seems like a large number. Research, however, has revealed that many new nurses leave their positions in hospitals within one year of starting them. In an effort to gain a better understanding of nurses’ needs and wants, this study surveyed more than 600 newly licensed registered nurses (NLRNs) to explore their perceptions of their first jobs. Data were collected from a questionnaire sent to NLRNs living in 33 states and the District of Columbia. An option to add comments was provided at the end of the survey. This study collected those comments and analyzed them to better understand a nurse’s expectations and experience.

The content analysis revealed five themes:

  1. Colliding expectations, which meant inconsistencies between what participants were taught in nursing school and actual clinical practice.
  2. Requirement to be up to speed on the job from day one.
  3. Too much is expected of them.
  4. Mistreatment (including verbal abuse) of new nurses by physicians and colleagues.
  5. Hope for the future.

It is clear from the content analysis that the working environment where nurses begin their careers is in need of reform.