Lesa Ann Hoppe


Clukey, Lory

Committee Member

Henry, Melissa

Committee Member

Snyder, Audrey

Committee Member

Rings, Jeffrey


School of Nursing Nursing Education


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



183 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


The purpose of this descriptive, phenomenological study was to explore and uncover the phenomenon of the lived experiences of new nurse graduates in the first year of employment in critical access hospitals. One-on-one interviews were completed with 13 participants working in critical access hospitals in three Midwestern states. The nurses had between 1 and 12 months’ experience in their registered nurse position. Six themes were identified in the study using Colaizzi’s (1978) seven-step process for analysis: (a) Always a Professional, (b) Personal Connections, (c) Pride in Work and Community, (d) Always on Your Toes, (e) Everyone Works as a Team, and (f) Essential Preparation Experiences. Findings indicated the theme of always being seen as a professional as part of their identity as nurses impacted participants’ sense of personal identity within the community and community ties impacted their attitudes and perceptions about patient care experiences within the workplace. The culture of a critical access hospital and the feeling of support amongst coworkers and administrators is especially important to foster an environment of teamwork and continued learning. This study could assist leaders in both nursing education and rural hospital settings to recognize and better understand the needs of new nurses as they launch their nursing careers in critical access hospitals.

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Copyright is held by the author.

Available for download on Wednesday, August 21, 2019