Internationally, transition from student to registered nurse is a challenging and stressful period. This study investigated the use of an Instant Messaging application (WhatsApp) community of practice to support graduate nurses in their first year of practice in the Western Cape, South Africa.
A preliminary survey was conducted to determine the technology readiness of 64 participants. Following the enrolment of a further 8 participants, 76 new graduate nurses were enrolled in the WhatsApp Community of Practice which ran over an 8-week period. A quantitative one-group pre and post study evaluation via Survey Face was conducted comparing socio-professional outcome measures.
The analysis of the readiness survey showed high WhatsApp use and perceived ease of use and usefulness. Though only 9 males in the survey, age and gender had no impact on the reported use. Interactions with alumni, bridging and bonding social capital, professional integration and a sense of belonging to a community of practice significantly improved. For graduate nurses in non-urban settings, bonding, professional identity and theory practice integrations were significantly higher compared to urban graduates.
The findings highlight the value of a WhatsApp community of practice for isolated graduated nurses, especially in critical phases of transition and their professional development.