Aims: Empirical evidence demonstrates successful expert nurses appointed as nurse lecturers in higher education find themselves as ‘newcomers’ to the role and organisation. New nurse lecturers often find their transition to higher education confusing and challenging. Using the conceptual framework of communities of practice, this study aims to provide original research into what induction means for new nurse lecturers, and gain an in-depth understanding of their perceptions and experiences of their induction into working in a multi-sited university.
Method: A qualitative research methodology was employed, using the theoretical approach of Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) developed by Smith, Flowers, and Larkin (2009). Eight lecturers, with between one to three years’ experience as nurse lecturers, were recruited from one university in the North West of England. Purposive sampling was utilised and data was obtained through one-toone semi-structured interviews. Verbatim transcripts were analysed following the principles of IPA.
Findings: Three super-ordinate themes emerged (partial transition, dual communities of practice, introduction), along with six sub-ordinate themes (expectations of the nurse educator role, career change, contextual influences, location and culture of sites, tick box exercise, and the limited role of the mentor). New nurse lecturers found transition stressful: key aspects included the culture shock and the career change of adopting their new academic identity. Changing identity from a nurse to an educator, working across the boundaries of both practice and academia, was a struggle, particularly in participants with visiting lecturer experience who had mistakenly perceived this would prepare them for the role. Early role preparation was essential to understanding the different cultures and processes within the university. Formal mentoring supported development of self-confidence, but its value was undermined due to the mentors’ workload and lack of understanding of their role,
which affected relationship building. Supportive heads of department, and informal mentoring and peer support, were essential in developing new academic identities.
Conclusion: This study contributes to practice through the development of an induction framework for new nurse educators. This framework acknowledges the relevance of maintaining a dual community of practice for new nurse educators, in supporting their new identity and their dual continuing professional development. Practical outcomes include: development of an informational resource for new lecturers (including visiting lecturers); development of a community of learning with facilitated workshops and online information resources; development of mentor training and resources for mentors; and mentors being thoughtfully designated by heads of department, with hours attached to their workload for mentoring. A long term online community of practice is needed for new staff to keep in touch and share information. Heads of department need to take ownership of inductions to ensure that their staff feel welcomed and supported in their new environment, with regular evaluation taking place.
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