Hummel, Faye

Committee Member

Einhellig, Katrina

Committee Member

Snyder, Audrey

Committee Member

Helm, Heather


Doctor of Philosophy


University of Northern Colorado

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Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created


Digital Origin

Born digital


This qualitative, descriptive phenomenology study sought to answer the following question: What experiences do nurse practitioners identify as being associated with their transition to the nurse practitioner (NP) role? Using purposive sampling and snowball techniques, eight nurse practitioners participated in this study. The study included participants from across the United States. Data from this study were developed from unstructured interviews with participants using audio-recorded open-ended questions, which were then transcribed by the principal investigator. The data were analyzed using Colaizzi’s (cited in Creswell, 2013) method for qualitative data analysis to identify common themes. Four central themes were generated from these data: emotive responses during the transition, building blocks for advanced practice, establishing vital relationships, and the educational journey. These themes were validated with the participants using a member checking process. An audit enhanced dependability and confirmability. Based on the emergence of the themes, this study described the NP role transition process as a time of mixed emotions. Intense feelings of excitement, stress, and nervousness were commonplace occurrences during the transition process. Negative feelings of stress and nervousness inhibited the ability of NPs to engage in their role. Fortuitously, these negative feelings occurred more significantly at the beginning of the role transition and diminished over time as NPs became more confident and competent in their role. Factors of NP role transition that provided the NP with building blocks for advanced practice included prior registered nurse experience, setting clear workplace expectations, and formal orientation programs. Without these factors, the transition to the NP role might have been challenging. Establishing relationships with experienced NPs and physician collaborators provided the NP with mentorship, support, and additional knowledge-building. The educational journey provided the basis for knowledge needed to function in the NP role. Curricular activities that provided meaningful interaction and knowledge applications were most beneficial to the NP’s role transition. The findings of this study were explored and recommendations for nurse practitioner educators to improve nurse practitioner role transition were asserted. Additionally, future research needs were addressed.

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