Date of Award

Fall 12-7-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

School

Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Committee Chair

Dr. Lachel Story

Committee Chair School

Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Committee Member 2

Dr. Janie Butts

Committee Member 2 School

Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Committee Member 3

Dr. Bonnie Harbaugh

Committee Member 3 School

Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Committee Member 4

Dr. Kathleen Masters

Committee Member 4 School

Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Committee Member 5

Dr. Kathryn Twibell

Abstract

Burnout and turnover in nursing have been well documented in nursing literature, but little is known about a nurse’s expectations of the profession compared to their perceived reality of the profession. Do these expectations meet the reality of the workplace, and does this cause the nurse to make a career change? What factors influence a nurse to leave the profession, job-hop, or return to school to further their education? The rate of nurse turnover is an ongoing issue with a lack of research regarding the foundation of nurse expectations compared to the realities of the profession.

The purpose of this study was to understand and describe the expectations of nurses compared to their perceived reality of the nursing profession. This study utilized a phenomenological qualitative design due to lack of research regarding the topic. The sample consisted of nine nurses who met the following criteria: had a bachelor’s degree in nursing, had experience in the nursing profession of no less than 1 year and more than 10 years, and currently work in either an outpatient or inpatient setting with direct patient care. Two of the nurses had only worked in the outpatient setting. The remaining 7 nurses had worked inpatient setting at some point in their career. The participants were asked open-ended questions while being recorded. Each interview lasted no less than 30 minutes and no more than 3 hours.

Themes were identified during data analysis. Misalignment was the common theme among all 9 nurses. Happiness was the subtheme found between the two nurses who had only worked in the outpatient setting. Frustration, disappointment, and feeling unappreciated were the three subthemes found between the other 7 nurses.

The themes that were found suggest that there is a misalignment between what a nurse expects of the profession compared to their perceived reality, whether that is a positive or negative misalignment. These findings can be useful to the profession to determine the foundation of nurse turnover and burnout. Due to the negative misalignment that nurses who have worked in the inpatient setting have experienced, future research needs to be conducted so that these negative experiences can be acknowledged and change can occur to keep the nursing profession advancing.

ORCID ID

0000-0003-3129-8500

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