© 2020 Australian College of Nursing Ltd Background: Early career registered nurses (ECRNs) are those in the first five years of practice and are at increased risk of leaving the profession. There is limited research investigating the experiences and approaches of ECRNs who have chosen to stay, which can, in turn, shed light on strategies to assist future ECRNs. Aim: This article reports on the findings of a study that explored the disorienting dilemmas of ECRNs and asked the question, how do ECRNs stay working in the profession of nursing. Methods: A qualitative methodology, employing a staged narrative approach was used to collect, develop and analyse the stories of 13 ECRNs. Transformative learning theory provided the theoretical framework for the study. Findings: The disorienting dilemmas experienced upon commencing work as RNs, required ECRNs to question the premise for their disorientation. Through this questioning, they discovered a misalignment between what they imagined it would be like to work as an RN and what they experienced once registered and in the workforce. Supportive but ad hoc relationships facilitated participants’ abilities to transform their frames of reference and begin to develop effective and authentic ways of being in the world, leading to their decision to stay. Conclusion: Learning for ECRNs must be a shared responsibility and the findings highlight the importance of relational and ontological learning for ECRNs. Workplaces must be safe, conducive to learning where uncivil and unprofessional behaviours are rejected.