The lived experience of nurses during a hospital restructuring

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Suderman, Eleanor Mary
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This research reveals that nurses caught in the maelstrom of health care reform experience a transition that is highly significant, even when they retain employment. A phenomenological method was employed to: (1) explore the experiences of nurses in a tertiary hospital undergoing restructuring; (2) find out what these experiences meant to nurses; and (3) discover what made their experiences positive or negative. A sample of 10 nurses, including staff nurses, clinicians and unit managers, participated in 60 to 90 minute interviews to share their stories. Data, analyzed using the approach described by Paterson and Zderad (1988), demonstrate that during restructuring, nurses experience numerous losses, along with some gains. As a result, they undergo a significant internal realignment which is consistent with Bridges' (1980) transition framework. Their experiences are made better or worse by factors in the organization, in their personal lives, and within themselves. Leaders who manage restructuring and nurseswho experience it, must take heed of management practices, union processes and personal factors that moderate these experiences, often in a profound way.