Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

William P. Foster, EdD, Director; June S. Lovenberg, PhD; Mary Woods Scherr, PhD


Enculturation, interpretive study, Leadership studies, Neophyte nurses, nursing subculture, nursing students, professional socialization, transitions


Making the transition from nursing student to practicing nurse requires the novice to master an array of complex nursing skills in order to care for acutely ill patients. In an era of cost containment, today's hospitals are demanding efficient and effective delivery of nursing services. Nurse administrators are expecting competent, efficient graduates nurses upon entry into the organization. The transition from school to the work world is characterized by the loss of one familiar social setting and its replacement by a distinctly new culture. The disparity the neophyte experiences between the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of school and work divides the new nurse into two subcultures: nursing schools and nurse employing organizations. This division makes the transitional shift from school to work organization, or from student of nursing to professional nursing a difficult one. The purpose of this study was to understand the influence of the nursing subculture on the professional socialization of neophytes. The goal of this study was to describe the total systematic structure of the lived experience during the enculturation process into the nursing subculture as perceived and understood by the neophytes entering professional nursing. The methodology involved participant observations and interviews with individuals in their natural context. An analysis of the events observed occurred. The conclusions drawn are the following: 1). the transition into nursing practice for the neophytes was surrounded by fear of failure, fear of total responsibility, and fear of making mistakes, 2). the subculture de-emphasized psychosocial patients interactions and placed its value on efficiency and task-oriented nursing care which for the novice practitioner was problematic, 3). there was a clash between the neophytes' school bred values and those of the work world, which made integration into the nursing subculture at times unpleasant, 4). the preceptors provided minimal support to the neophytes, largely because they did not understand the preceptor role, 5). articulating the values, norms, beliefs, and expectations to the neophytes was difficult for the preceptors, and 6). the neophytes had difficulty with task self-esteem because of their lack of organizational skills.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access