Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (School of Nursing)

Schools and Centres

Nursing and Midwifery

First Supervisor

Associate Professor Joanna Patching

Second Supervisor

Dr Nerilee Torning


The experiences and perceptions of New Graduate Nurses as they transition into professional practice and into intensive care units abounds in the literature. However, there is a dearth of literature exploring the experiences of Senior Registered Nurses who work with New Graduate Nurses in intensive care units.

The aim of this inquiry was to contribute to nursing knowledge by examining Senior Registered Nurses’ stories of experience around the complexity of enabling development of New Graduate Nurses whilst working in clinical or team leading roles in the intensive care unit. Thus, allowing the Senior Registered Nurses’ voice to be heard in the literature.

Narrative inquiry methodology, underpinned by Dewey’s theory of experience, was used to examine the experiences of five Senior Registered Nurses in one Level 6 intensive care unit. This was achieved by engaging Senior Registered Nurses in individual conversations then co-composing the final individual narrative accounts with participants, whilst remaining immersed in the three-dimensional space of temporality, sociality and place. Thematic analysis methods were used to actively identify two overarching threads that resonated across all five narrative accounts.

The first thread, ‘Reverberations’, contained five minor threads: ‘We Carry Them’, ‘It’s Dangerous’, ‘Patrolling Like Surf Lifesavers’, ‘Enjoyable Moments’ and ‘Survival Mode’. The second thread, ‘Caring’, contained three minor threads: ‘I’ve Been There’, ‘They Must Ask Questions’ and ‘Not In My Backyard’.

Analysis identified Senior Registered Nurses’ workload and level of patient surveillance increased when working with New Graduate Nurses in the intensive care unit, leading to perceptions of feeling stressed, pressured and overwhelmed. Yet an obligation prevailed to support and care for New Graduate Nurses, perceived by participant Senior Registered Nurses as not yet possessing the clinical skills to independently care for critically ill patients in the dangerous intensive care unit environment.

There are significant implications for health care organisations to increase resources to alleviate Senior Registered Nurses’ substantial workload and recognise their essential role in supporting New Graduate Nurses while simultaneously sustaining quality intensive care unit patient care.

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