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Keywords:

  • career choice;
  • meta-study;
  • nursing;
  • professional socialization;
  • recruitment;
  • retention;
  • systematic review

Abstract

Title. Becoming a nurse: a meta-study of early professional socialization and career choice in nursing.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a meta-study of early professional socialization and career choice in nursing.

Background.  The current and growing shortage of nurses is a global issue, and nursing recruitment and retention are recognized priorities internationally. The future of nursing will lie in the ability to recruit and retain the next generation to the profession.

Data sources.  Studies were identified through a search of the CINAHL, PsycInfo, Sociological Abstracts, PubMed; Medline and Embase databases from 1990 to 2007.

Review methods.  Studies were included if they gave insight into the experience of choosing nursing as a career, used qualitative methodology and methods, and were published in English. Analysis was undertaken using Paterson et al.’s framework for qualitative meta-synthesis.

Results.  Ten primary studies were included in the review. Their methodologies included: ethnography (4); descriptive qualitative (3); grounded theory (2); and phenomenology (1). The location of the research was Canada (3), United Kingdom (2), United States of America (2), Australia (1), Japan (1) and Sweden (1). Three main themes were identified: influence of ideals; paradox of caring and role of others.

Conclusion.  Career choice and early professional socialization are influenced by multiple factors. In future recruitment and retention strategies to address the critical nursing shortage, it is important to consider the role of mentors, peers and role models in the formulation of career expectations, and career choice decisions. It is also necessary to consider the role of mentors, peers and role models in the formulation of career expectations, and career choice decisions.