AIM: The aim of this paper is to provide a theoretical framework of the initial role transition for newly graduated nurses to assist managers, educators and seasoned practitioners to support and facilitate this professional adjustment appropriately. BACKGROUND: The theory of Transition Shock presented here builds on Kramer's work by outlining how the contemporary new graduate engaging in a professional practice role for the first time is confronted with a broad range and scope of physical, intellectual, emotional, developmental and sociocultural changes that are expressions of, and mitigating factors within the experience of transition. DATA SOURCES: This paper offers cumulative knowledge gained from a programme of research spanning the last 10 years and four qualitative studies on new graduate transition. DISCUSSION: New nurses often identify their initial professional adjustment in terms of the feelings of anxiety, insecurity, inadequacy and instability it produces. The Transition Shock theory offered focuses on the aspects of the new graduate's roles, responsibilities, relationship and knowledge that both mediate the intensity and duration of the transition experience and qualify the early stage of professional role transition for the new nursing graduate. CONCLUSION: Transition shock reinforces the need for preparatory theory about role transition for senior nursing students and the critical importance of bridging undergraduate educational curricula with escalating workplace expectations. The goal of such knowledge is the successful integration of new nursing professionals into the stressful and highly dynamic context of professional practice.
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