New graduate nurses' delivery of patient care: A focused ethnography

Maiken Holm Kaldal, Rebecca Feo, Tiffany Conroy, Mette Grønkjær, Siri Lygum Voldbjerg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


Aim: To explore factors influencing newly graduated nurses' delivery of direct care in acute care hospital settings. 

Design: Qualitative study using focused ethnography. 

Methods: During the period from March to June 2022, a total of ten newly graduated nurses were purposively sampled, and data were collected through 96 h of participant observation as well as ten semi-structured interviews. This research took place in a large hospital located in Denmark. Data were analysed using LeCompte and Schensul's ethnographic content analysis. 

Results: Three main structures were developed from the data: ‘Contrasting Intentions and Actions for care delivery’, ‘Organizational Constraints Block Interpersonal Aspects of Nursing Care’ and ‘Newly Graduated Nurses' Suppressed Need for Support Constitutes Delay in Care Actions’. 

Conclusion: Newly graduated nurses were committed to delivering high-quality care but were aware they sometimes provided compromised care. The paradox between a commitment to care and compromised care delivery was borne out of tensions between newly graduated nurses' professional beliefs and nursing values, a desire to integrate patients' needs and preferences, and organizational constraints on everyday practices where newly graduated nurses often worked alone without the support of a more experienced nurse. Critical reflection on cultural, social and political forces that influence direct care delivery might support newly graduated nurses to deliver direct patient care more intentionally. 

Relevance to Clinical Practice: Establishment of onboarding programs and other support activities for newly graduated nurses to cope with contrasting intentions and actions that must address organizational constraints is essential. These development programs should include how critical reflection competency is supported to address value inconsistencies and emotional distress to ensure high-quality patient care. 

Reporting Method: The reporting adhered to the COREQ guidelines. 

Patient or Public Contribution: ‘No Patient or Public Contribution’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7454-7466
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number19-20
Early online date20 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • acute care setting
  • clinical competence
  • focused ethnography
  • new graduate nurses, patient care
  • professional practice
  • qualitative research


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