Nursing student plans for the future after graduation: a multicentre study


  • Funding


  • Conflict of interest

    No conflict of interest has been declared by the authors.



When modelling the nursing workforce, estimations of the numbers and characteristics of new graduates over the forecast period are assumed on the basis of previous generations; however, new graduates may have different plans for their future than those documented previously in different socio-economical contexts.


To explore (a) nursing student plans after graduation and factors influencing their plans, and (b) factors associated with the intention to emigrate.


A survey questionnaire was developed and distributed to students attending their final third year of nursing education in seven universities in Italy in 2015. Nine hundred and twenty-three (90.4%) students participated.


Four different plans after graduation emerged: about two-thirds reported an intention to look for a nursing job in Italy; the remaining reported (a) an intention to emigrate, looking for a nursing job abroad, (b) an intention to search for a nursing job in both Italy and abroad, and (c) while a few an intention to continue nursing education in Italy. Having previous experience abroad, the need to grow and be satisfied, trusting the target country and a desire to increase knowledge encouraged an intention to emigrate, whereas the desire to stay in a comfortable environment and nurture personal relationships prevented the desire to migrate.


Nursing students may have different plans after graduation, and this should be considered when modelling the nursing workforce of the future.

Implications for nursing/health policy

Policymakers should be aware of different plans after graduation to guide healthcare human resource strategies. Knowing these trajectories allows policymakers to estimate the appropriate nursing workforce, and also to act at both macro- and meso-levels, on work environments and opportunities for professional development, according to the different levels of expectations.