An institutional ethnographic exploration of the transitional experience of registered nurses entering the long-term care environment

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University of New Brunswick


As the Canadian population advances in age, and the proportion of citizens’ aged 65 years and older increases, greater strain is placed on the health care system, particularly the long-term care (LTC) sector. Registered Nurses (RN) are vital members of the LTC team; however, little is known about the transition period for them into the LTC environment. Understanding the lived experiences of RNs who transition into LTC will not only support the development of strategies to positively impact recruitment and retention, but will also enhance the quality of care and life for LTC residents. The purpose of this research was to investigate the lived experiences of RNs who are transitioning, or have transitioned, into the LTC environment. Dorothy Smith’s Institutional Ethnography (Smith, 1987) was adopted as a creative approach to the issue under study. The experiences of RNs who transition into LTC and the social, political, historical, and economic factors that influence their role and experiences were explored. Findings from the study reveal a complex transition period for RNs and the social and ruling relations that mediate their everyday/everynight lives and shape their transitional experience were identified.