The lived experience of non-nurse college graduates in an accelerated nursing education program

Date of Completion

January 2009


Health Sciences, Nursing|Education, Higher




A phenomenological study was conducted to describe the lived experience of non-nurse college graduates in an accelerated registered nurse (RN) education program designed for completion in less than 11 months. A purposive sample of 11 participants who recently completed the program shared their experience in lengthy, structured face-to-face interviews. Eight themes emerged: (1) a "whirlwind" forecasted in advance but surprisingly unimaginable; (2) awakening to the harsh realities of nursing through personal encounters with patients; (3) the transformation from expert to novice feels like being "deer in the headlights"; (4) mentoring from clinical instructors, passionate professors, and staff nurses is highly valued; (5) the journey to the finish line ranges from easy to difficult depending on their previous career; (6) students expect continuous quality improvement in the program; (7) class comradery and the development of friendships ease the stress; and (8) overall graduates liked the program as they believe that are better prepared to enter the workforce than traditionally educated nurses. ^ Describing the lived experience is based on the philosophical underpinnings of Husserl's descriptive phenomenology. The participants' shared experiences contain eidetic structures that emerged from the data using Colaizzi's method of data analysis. Describing the experience is a foundation for further knowledge development. Currently, there is a paucity of research concerned with second degree programs. The number of accelerated RN programs for non-nurse college graduates has risen from 31 in 1998 to 205 in 2007, with many more in the planning phase (AACN, 2007). A science of nursing education for adult learners with previous college degrees in accelerated programs is warranted. Educators, administrators, and employers need to be certain that teaching strategies are appropriate to the learners' needs and that the graduates are being socialized into nursing. ^