Aims and objective: To explore new nurses’ processes of growth in the workplace in order to understand the challenges they face. Background: Quantitative and qualitative research to date has not adequately explored the complex ways in which initial work experiences may shape new nurses’ very high quit rate and, consequently, impact the long-term nursing shortage in Taiwan. Design/Methods: We conducted in-depth interviews with new nurses to explore their professional development, including the challenges they faced, and their feelings about staying or quitting. Twenty newly registered nurses who had worked in a hospital setting full-time for a year or less in two southern Taiwan medical centres were interviewed. Data were collected from March–November 2016. EQUATOR guidelines were followed, using the COREQ checklist. Results: Interview transcripts were analysed and coded; three stages of growth were discovered: Feeling disillusioned and shocked, Gaining experiential knowledge and Making a place for oneself. Most nurses (n = 18/20) went through these three stages within 9 months and continued to work in nursing at follow-up 2 years later. Conclusions: Job continuity was contingent upon new nurses’ enduring a painful process of adjustment in the first two stages when new nurses were unsure of themselves and their interactions with preceptors were wrought with social tensions. New nurse development and retention efforts should make explicit the possibility of these tensions and how to deal with them. Relevance to clinical practice: A better understanding of new nurses’ growth processes and adjustment pains can help refocus professional development and retention efforts towards how new nurses can succeed in finding a place for themselves.
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