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Reported levels of exhaustion by the graduate nurse midwife and their perceived potential for unsafe practice: A phenomenological study of Australian double degree nurse midwives
journal contributionposted on 07.06.2021, 22:26 authored by Helen Donovan, Anthony WelchAnthony Welch, Moira WilliamsonMoira Williamson
Background: The experiences of graduate nurses and midwives transitioning into the clinical environment as beginning practitioners has been reported as a time period of great challenge. For the graduate double degree nurse midwife, often transitioning into two disciplines of practice concurrently, their experiences have the potential to be heightened. The aim of this research was to explore the transition to practice experiences of double degree graduate nurse midwives practicing in either or both nursing and midwifery in the Australian health care system. Methods: This research used a Husserlian descriptive phenomenological approach to understand the experiences of 23 double degree graduate nurse midwives working in 20 different health care facilities across Australia. Results: The findings showed that most participants experienced exhaustion from an emotional, physical, and mental perspective during their first year of practice. These experiences were linked with cognitive saturation, professional loneliness, sleep deprivation, and an inability to achieve a work–life balance. The data also highlighted the graduate nurse midwife’s concerns for safe practice when feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally depleted. Conclusion/Application to Practice: Safe practice is paramount for both patient and health care worker. The levels of exhaustion described by the participants in this study influenced their perceived ability to practice safely. As a result, it should be recognized that the graduate nurse midwife’s health and well-being is central to their perceptions of safe practice and is fundamental to a positive transition to practice experience.