Supporting novice nurses in an Early Career Transition Program

Supporting novice nurses

The Supported Registered Nurse Program (SRNP) and Supported Enrolled Nurse Program (SENP) are six-month Early Career Transition Programs (ECTP) for registered and enrolled nurses who have not previously participated in or have not been accepted into a transition program.

The program is closely aligned with the existing Transition to Professional Practice Program (TPPP) and aims to provide new nurses access to additional clinical support and education. With an ever-increasing junior nursing workforce, the need to support novice nurses is imperative, especially those new to acute care. Support is not only for ensuring consumer safety but for successful transition and staff retention within the health network.¹

The ECTP focuses on newly graduated, novice and new to acute care nurses with the aim to support the successful transition from novice to advanced beginner in nursing practice. The ECTP consists of the TPPP, Supported Registered Nurse Program and Supported Enrolled Nurse Program. With limited positions within the TPPP, paired with increased onboarding of nurses with little or no experience, the need to fill the gap to ensure all staff receive adequate support is evident.

A dedicated referral form for the program with screening questions was designed and implemented in 2022 to facilitate Nurse Managers and Nurse Educators within the network to identify and refer new staff to the programs easily. This referral form also asks for agreement to support the participant to attend the required professional development sessions to ensure successful completion of the program. The link is emailed to the appropriate audience and made available on the Learning Management System for easy access. Before this, there was no formality in the referral process, which was often completed via email.

The SRNP and SENP provide a range of education and clinical support activities. Clinical visits by Clinical Nurse Educators (CNEs) allow for practical bedside teaching, professional role modelling and wellbeing check-ins. Professional Development Days provide an opportunity for more formal learning, connecting with colleagues, reflection and debrief in a safe, non-clinical environment. Short workshops are also offered for targeted, more intense learning whereby pre-learning is completed before attendance and applied through the 3.5-hour workshops onsite. These workshops strongly emphasise detecting and managing the deteriorating patient and increasing participants’ confidence in systematically assessing patients. Cultural safety and wellbeing are also a key focus.

In previous years the SRNP and SENP saw approximately 25 to 30 acute care nurses transition per six-month program. Currently, the programs have 140 participants, as well as an extensive waiting list. This significant increase reflects increased awareness of the program, its reputation, a streamlined referral process, and an influx of new nurses being onboarded to fill the staffing deficit experienced within the acute healthcare setting.

It is hoped that support and resourcing for these programs continue to grow as their benefits to consumers, staff, and the organisation become more evident. By investing time and resources into the transition of novice nurses now, the organisation is investing in the future through retention of a knowledgeable and experienced nursing workforce.

1 Russell K, Juliff D. Graduate nurse transition programs pivotal point of participants’ practice readiness questioned during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis: A scoping review. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing [Internet] 2021 Aug [cited 2022 Jul 18]; 52(8), 392–396. Available from

Jenna Georgacopoulos Graduate Certificate of Nursing (Education), Bachelor of Nursing is Nurse Educator, Early Career Transition Programs, Central Adelaide Local Health Network, Royal Adelaide Hospital, South Australia

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