Date of Award

2021

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Nursing)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Schools and Centres

Nursing and Midwifery

Abstract

Newly graduated nurses adapting to their professional role have been studied, mainly in their first year of practice. The development of coping strategies, acculturation and other adaptations to the nursing world begin at the onset of the educational journey. Understanding how these manifest early in the formative years can enable educators to tailor nursing programs to assist the future nurse to develop positive coping mechanisms and help pave the way to a successful transition into practice. This research aimed to identify elements conducive to positive adaptation and wellbeing of nursing students during their first year of nursing studies, including the role played by humour. The current literature concerning nurses’ transition into practice, the reality and demands of the nursing profession, and the beneficial and detrimental strategies used to cope with them guided the research. The researcher used opportunistic sampling to recruit participants and follow them during their first year of nursing education. This mixed methods study obtained measures of coping, resilience and humour styles at baseline. Further enriching the data, the study was modified with the advent of COVID 19, and participants engaged in a series of reflective journals and interviews following clinical placements along a lengthier period of a full year. Data triangulation identified the main factors facilitating students’ adaptation. Of these, the positive roles of relationships and humour were found to be intricately linked to students’ adaptation in academic and clinical fields, and proved beneficial in coping with the demands and pressures experienced in nursing. Recommendations drawn from these findings inform nursing educators and workforce developers on vital elements to facilitate program completion and workforce sustainability.

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