AIMS: To investigate job satisfaction and confidence levels of graduate nurses during their first year of employment and the impact various training programmes have on these factors. BACKGROUND: The transition from nursing student to practising nurse can be a challenging and stressful time for new nurses. Healthcare organizations provide transition programmes to support nurses through this vulnerable time and to assist in increasing graduates' job satisfaction and retention rates. However, no systematic review of transition programme outcomes has been undertaken to determine the impact of these programmes on improving satisfaction levels and on easing the challenges faced by nursing graduates in their new roles as Registered Nurses. DESIGN: Systematic review of effect using narrative synthesis. DATA SOURCES: Quantitative studies published between 2000-December 2012 were identified using electronic databases and reference lists and by searching 'grey literature'. Primary search terms were 'new graduate nurse' and 'transitional programmes'. REVIEW METHODS: The three authors, guided by standardized procedures, performed independent, blinded data extraction and quality assessment. RESULTS: From 338 studies initially identified, eleven studies were included in this review. These studies used a variety of study designs including quasi-experimental and pre- and posttesting. CONCLUSION: Evidence suggests that transition programmes are necessary in creating working environments that support new nurses in the clinical environment and this is demonstrated by increased job satisfaction and retention rates. However, optimum programme length and structure are unclear.