New nurses deserve every help in their first steps on the career path

Our 2017 RCNi student award winner – and now regular contributor – Zoe Butler describes a crash of confidence in her first role after qualifying and reminds us that we all need help when we’re starting out, writes editor Graham Scott

The term ‘theory-practice gap’ was coined years ago in an attempt to describe the difference between nursing in the classroom and the reality of practice in a clinical setting.

Often it is used unfairly to denigrate newly qualified nurses when they arrive in the workplace and attempt to make the transition from student to practitioner.

There is so much crammed into a three-year nursing degree these days that it is necessary to extend the academic year by several weeks to accommodate the extra tuition and practice placements demanded of students.

Time to adjust

Even so, it is unrealistic to expect nurses fresh from college to hit the ground at full pelt – there will always be a period of adjustment while learning is consolidated.

Nursing Standard will be addressing the challenge faced by newly qualified nurses through a series of columns penned by our very own Zoe Butler, winner of the student category at the RCNi Nurse Awards 2017 and now a staff nurse in orthopaedics at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust in Lancashire.

In her first article, Ms Butler writes about the transition being ‘scary’, her feelings of isolation and a crash in confidence. She learned the importance of not being afraid to ask for help or seek support when she needs it. Along with this, a mature approach to critical reflection and an impressive level of self-awareness helped her cope and move forward.

It is a salutary reminder that we were all new once, and need extra help when we take our first steps on the career path.

Read more

My first year as a qualified nurse: a crisis of confidence, a shift in perspective