From ward nurse to proficient critical care nurse: A narrative inquiry study
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Following graduation most registered nurses in New Zealand spend the first few years of their nursing career working in the wards of the country’s public hospitals. Some nurses then choose Critical Care as the place they wish to work. Anecdotally, the journey from Ward Nurse to Critical Care Nurse is a traumatic one, yet the literature contains very little around this subject. The aim of this study was to explore the stories of experienced Critical Care nurses moving from general wards to Critical Care. Four nurses participated in this qualitative study. Narrative inquiry, following the approach of Goodfellow (1997) was selected as the methodology. Five common themes emerged from the data analysis – lack of challenges in the ward situation prior to moving to Critical Care; lack of knowledge and skills related to Critical Care; socialisation issues; stress experienced by the nurses; and taking responsibility for learning and gaining knowledge. One significant limitation of the study is that it explored the stories of only four nurses. Its relevant contribution to nursing is that it gives voice to the stories of these nurses. Potentially it will increase the understanding of nurses, health care managers, policy makers, and educationalists, and as a result the journey from Ward Nurse to proficient Critical Care Nurse can be enhanced for future nurses. This has significant implications for client (or patient) care in these units.