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Keywords:

  • cultural issues;
  • ethnicity;
  • gender;
  • management;
  • nurse education;
  • nursing workforce;
  • student attrition

Abstract

Title. Diversity, attrition and transition into nursing.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to explore the relationship between selected diversity variables (sex, country of birth, ethnicity, age, educational qualifications, and additionally visa status, application route, absence rates), and nursing students’ progression and attrition.

Background.  Debates on levels, forms and causation of nursing student attrition have been professional, academic and political concerns for some time on an international level. However, a more systematic approach to studying the topic is needed. We lack commonly operationalized national and international data on the relationship between attrition and diversity variables, and their implications for cost, social justice and demographic representativeness in nursing.

Methods.  A longitudinal cohort design was used. Data were collected from 2003 to 2005 from routinely collected data in student records.

Results.  Males had lower odds of completing the programme than females, as did younger students. Compared with United Kingdom-born students, those born in Ireland, Zimbabwe, or other English-speaking countries were more likely to complete the programme. Students born overseas in non-English-speaking countries did not differ statistically significantly from United Kingdom-born students. Those at all qualification levels had similar odds of completion, except students already qualified at degree level, who were less likely to complete.

Conclusion.  Further national and international research is needed to understand better the causal variables underpinning differential attrition rates, with particular regard to understanding how different groups may experience the relationship between education and their broader circumstances and between the theoretical and the clinical elements of nurse education itself.