ROLE3.pdf - Role Transition During RN-to-FNP Education...

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ABSTRACT This study examines the role transition that occurs during RN-to-family nurse practitioner (FNP) education, described in an earlier qualitative study that identified a role transition framework of influential positive forces and obstacles. The purposes of the study were to validate the educational phase of the original framework and explore other role transition issues. The study used a descriptive correlational design by asking all FNPs in two rural west- ern states to participate by answering a questionnaire. Findings evidenced a stronger level of agreement with the positive forces than with the obstacles. In addition, two significant relationships were found between the positive forces and obstacles and personal life circumstances. These included personal support systems, which were significant for those who had to travel to class, and personal sacri- fices, which were significant for those who had children at home. Further research will focus on testing across nurse practitioner specialties nationally. F amily nurse practitioners (FNPs) are RNs with ad- ditional education that allows them to function in an expanded role as primary care providers. Nurse practitioner (NP) education is a time of great excitement, upheaval, and change for RNs, with the ultimate goal of transformation from RN to NP. Although the journey from RN to independent NP continues through the first few years of practice, the education program is the begin- ning. The journey has been described as a roller coaster of anxiety, stress, and turbulence. New NPs report feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, vulnerable, and isolated as stu- dents. Self-doubt is a common emotion. The transforma- tion from RN to FNP has been characterized as more com- plicated than that of the stages of skills acquisition, novice to expert, described by Benner, Tanner, and Chesla (1996). Experienced nurses feel discomfort as they go from compe- tent nurses to beginning NPs. This has been documented as a “step backward in expertise” (Brown & Olshansky, 1998, p. 55). During the journey, NP students have the re- sponsibility of acquiring new knowledge, as well as learn- ing to use their previous nursing knowledge in new ways. Family nurse practitioners face the challenge of learning primary care, a field that encompasses a broad range of health problems and family situations. Indeed, NP educa- tion is a time of change with uncertainty and increased responsibility as RNs struggle to learn and practice a dif- ferent aspect of nursing (Steiner & Burman, 2000). This current study of role transition during the FNP educational process builds on previous work exploring the role transition in FNPs (Heitz, Steiner & Burman, 2004). Heitz et al. (2004) used a descriptive qualitative approach with a resulting conceptualization of FNP role transition.
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