Graduate nurse views on patient safety: Navigating challenging workplace interactions with senior clinical nurses

Ashlyn Sahay, Eileen Willis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Aim and objective: To explore and understand the negative experiences of graduate nurses’ interaction with senior nurses and the implications for safe patient care. Background: Patient safety is dependent on the nursing care they receive. Working in environments where there is reduced collegial support and increased emotional distress, increases the likelihood of nurses making errors that may negatively impact on patient outcomes. Insights drawn from graduate nurses’ negative interactions with senior nurses may provide an understanding of the impact of nurse-to-nurse interactions on patient safety outcomes. Methods: A qualitative exploratory descriptive design was used. A purposive sample of 18 graduate registered nurses participated in this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were thematically analysed. The COREQ checklist was followed. Results: The overarching theme, ‘Navigating workplace challenges’ was identified with two sub-themes: Processing unsupportive nurse behaviour and responding to nurse deviations from best practice. Common deviations in practice included erosion of safe medication practice, wound care and non-compliance with universal precautions. Graduate nurses also observed unsafe workplace practice, however, were hesitant to speak up due to fear of retribution. Unsupportive behaviours impacted on their critical thinking ability, follow-up interactions with other nurses and subsequent delivery of patient care. Conclusion: Quality and safety strategies should not ignore and/or overlook the impact of interpersonal relationships on patient safety and risk. Strategies for delivering evidence-based, safe and quality care to patients go beyond the establishment of standards and technically focussed management strategies. Relevance to clinical practice: It is vital to examine the quality of working relationships between all levels of healthcare professionals including graduate nurses and their supervisors to ensure supportive behaviours prevail in advancing delivery of quality care within the practice environment. The study alludes to the fact that disruptive workplace behaviours are more hierarchical than horizontal (i.e., graduate nurse-to-graduate nurse).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-249
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number1-2
Early online date10 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • graduate nurses
  • horizontal violence
  • nurse leadership
  • patient safety
  • qualitative research
  • workplace challengers


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