PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to understand the life of newly appointed professors of nursing by exploring the meaning and essence of their academic work and life experience. METHODS: The participants consisted of 11 newly appointed female full-time professors with less than five years of experience who had been purposely sampled from three or four-year nursing colleges. Data were collected from October 2010 to December 2011 through the face-to-face interview and phone interview. Thematic analysis was conducted using hermeneutic phenomenological methodology. RESULTS: The findings were classified into seven themes: 'Starting feeling hope and delight', 'putting sustained energy into lecturing and training', 'struggling in the tense atmosphere where assessments are often conducted', 'gaining courage in an associated relationship network', 'experiencing confusion of the identity as a professor', 'seeking compromise, handling their work and housework', and 'shedding new light on reality with self-awareness'. CONCLUSION: This study is significant in that it offered the foundation for the creation of human resources networks and mentoring programs that help newly appointed professors to effectively adjust to university society on the basis of the sympathetic understanding of and support for their life.