The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand multiple stakeholder perspectives of new graduate (NG) transition programs. It was part of a larger mixed-methods study (2011) designed to provide a comprehensive assessment of new graduate nurse transition best practices, across six British Columbia health authorities. Data collection involved individual interviews with academic nurse educators (n=4) and separate focus groups with new graduate (n=48) and front-line nurse leaders (n=69). Disparity emerged as the overriding theme and described differences between stakeholder group perspectives, between expectations and reality, and within and across programs. Four disparities emerged: entry-level education and practice, perspectives on employment and career planning, transition program elements and support. Despite general satisfaction with undergraduate preparation, theory–practice gaps were identified. New Graduates experienced misalignments between their employment expectations and their realities. The employed student nurse program in which many new graduates had participated did not always yield employment, but when it did, differences in transitional expectations arose between new graduates and leaders. There was considerable variation across and within provincial new graduate programs with respect to orientation, supernumerary time and preceptorship characteristics, including lack of training. Disparities arose in the nature, amount of and access to support and the monitoring of new graduate progress. Findings reinforced organizational complexities and the importance of communication across education and practice sectors. This paper uncovers the tensions between the perspectives of new graduates and nurse leaders about transitional programs and opens the opportunity to collaborate in aligning the perspectives.
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