Aim: This paper reports on two studies that examined why students withdrew from a Bachelor of Nursing degree. Background: With the aim of recruiting undergraduate candidates who are the most likely to complete the degree and pursue a nursing career, the University of Adelaide requires high matriculation scores and satisfactory performance in a structured oral assessment as part of the process of selection. Method: In the first study, two questionnaires were used to collect data from all applicants before and after an oral assessment. The degree of personal desire and motivation to become a Registered Nurse, including knowledge about nursing and the profession were among qualities rated. For the second study, semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with students who had withdrawn. Results: Statistical comparison showed there were significant differences between continuing and withdrawing applicants in whether or not they had previous nursing-related experience and in knowing someone who was a nurse. The qualitative data reinforced the importance of these factors for attrition. Participants identified emotional issues surrounding an aversion to illness, sickness, pain, suffering and blood. Conclusion: The results of both studies suggest that a primary factor in attrition is a lack of realistic expectation regarding nursing as a profession.
- Nurse education