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Posted: September 4th, 2023

Transitioning to a Professional Nursing Role

Transitioning to a Professional Nursing Role: Change and Evolution

Nurses taking on advanced roles in healthcare contribute fresh ideas and insights to education, administration, research, and practice. Advanced education exposes nurses to professional socialization, shaping their values, norms, and perspectives unique to the profession. This process forms the foundation for their work conduct and helps them overcome personal and professional challenges during transitions.

This essay explores the journey of nurses transitioning to advanced roles, drawing on models of transition by Bridges, Spencer, and Adams. It also delves into the evolving nature of nursing roles, the impact of change in healthcare, and personal experiences in navigating these transitions.

Models of Transition: Bridges, Spencer, and Adams

Change can incite resistance due to apprehension. Bridges’ three-phase model of transition (ending, neutral zone, new beginnings) and Spencer and Adams’ seven-stage model (losing focus, minimizing impact, the pit, letting go, testing limits, searching for meaning, integration) shed light on this process.

Bridges’ model emphasizes disengagement, disidentification, disenchantment, and disorientation in the ending phase. Similarly, Spencer and Adams’ model encompasses conflicting emotions and resistance in the initial stages. The neutral zone and later stages of both models mirror adaptation, skill acquisition, and comfort with change.

Nursing’s Dynamic Evolution

Nursing has rapidly transformed due to societal shifts, healthcare changes, and professional evolution. Factors include an aging, diverse population, shifting reimbursement practices, technological advancements, scientific discoveries, and novel health challenges. These alterations redefine nursing from a mere job to a committed profession (Blais & Hayes, 2011).

The Changing Healthcare Landscape

Healthcare system shifts influence nursing expectations. Nurses seek further education to meet heightened demands and enhance efficacy. Aspiring nursing students and returning registered nurses experience challenges resembling Bridges’ and Spencer and Adams’ transition models. Personal experiences align with the Bridges model, involving discomfort with leaving familiarity, adapting to change, and eventually finding comfort.

Roles within the Nursing Profession

Roles encompass societal expectations, self-perception, and actual performance. As a wife, mother, nurse, and student, I balance diverse responsibilities, facing challenges and victories. Nursing offers the satisfaction of contributing to patient recovery, albeit with stress from work overload. As a student, stress and feelings of overwhelm arise, countered by family support, self-care strategies, and time management.

Advanced Nursing Education and Practice

The increasing presence of advanced practice nurses (APNs) – certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse-anesthetists, and nurse practitioners – reshapes healthcare delivery. I deliberated between becoming a certified registered nurse-anesthetist and a nurse practitioner, both roles demanding advanced education and specialized skills.

Informatics Competencies and Evolving Practice

The application of informatics in nursing practice enhances healthcare quality. This aligns with initiatives to ensure safety, effectiveness, and patient-centered care. Though studies often focus on undergraduates, informatics proficiency is relevant for advanced practice nurses, like nurse practitioners.


Nursing thrives on change, growth, and adaptability. Navigating transitions demands embracing change and acquiring necessary knowledge and skills. Despite initial apprehensions, as new roles are internalized, self-confidence and satisfaction emerge. As the healthcare landscape evolves, nursing’s dynamism remains a cornerstone, driven by the commitment to provide excellent patient care.

Blais, K., & Hayes, J. S. (2011). Professional nursing practice, concepts and perspectives. (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Choi, J. (June 2012). Comparative Assessment of Informatics Competencies in Three Undergraduate Programs. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), vol. 16 (2). Retrieved from 1700

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