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Australia’s first Transition to Professional Practice in Primary Care Program: Qualitative findings from a mixed-method evaluation

      Abstract

      Background

      In Australia, there is an increasing demand for registered nurses in primary health care. Registered nurses graduating from university typically enter the workforce via supported transition to professional practice programs in acute-care hospital settings. A prospective strategy to create a sustainable primary health care workforce is to develop comparable transition programs in primary health care settings, such as general practice. We developed, implemented, and evaluated Australia’s first transition to professional practice in primary care program.

      Aim

      To explore the experiences and perceptions of graduate registered nurses and practice nurses participating in a novel transition to professional practice in primary care program.

      Methods

      Thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with graduate registered nurses (n= 4) and their preceptors (practice nurses, n= 5) on completion of the program.

      Findings

      Three themes emerged from the graduate registered nurse interviews: opportunities for education and clinical development, job satisfaction, and career progression opportunities. Graduate registered nurses were satisfied with the available learning opportunities, indicated a career in primary health care could be potentially rewarding, and anticipated moderate career progression opportunities within general practice. Preceptor themes included program positivity and early career opportunities. The preceptors were positive about the program and believed it supported the graduate registered nurses to become confident and competent. However, both the graduate registered nurses and preceptors perceived an acute-care hospital transition to professional practice program was necessary to gain adequate nursing skills, even if they intended to have a future career in primary health care. Furthermore, they appeared to believe that a career in general practice is more appropriate for “older nurses”.

      Discussion

      These beliefs may be a barrier for transition to professional practice in primary care programs to develop and support a sustainable primary health care workforce.

      Conclusions

      Improved primary health care transition programs, policy, and educational strategies are required.

      Keywords

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