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Nurse education: factors associated with attrition


S. Pryjmachuk: e-mail:


Title. Nurse education: factors associated with attrition.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to identify the factors having an impact on student completion rates in a preregistration programme.

Background.  Nursing student attrition is an international issue causing concern in many parts of the developed world including Australia, the United States and Europe. In the United Kingdom, nursing student attrition has become a major issue, despite having one of the lowest general university dropout rates in the developed world.

Method.  A retrospective cohort study was conducted in 2007 using routinely-collected demographic and completion data on four cohorts of nursing students (1259 in total) studying at a large English university.

Findings.  Students who were older on entry were more likely to complete the programme than younger students, and those who had only the minimum educational qualifications on entry were less likely to complete than those with higher-level qualifications. There was some evidence of increased risk of resigning from the course in students taking the child branch, and increased risk of discontinuation (involuntary removal) from the course in both male and black/minority ethnic students. There was also some evidence that the healthcare organization responsible for a student’s placement could influence completion rates.

Conclusion.  To improve attrition rates on preregistration nursing programmes, higher education institutions should actively target recruitment at mature candidates; increase the level of qualification required to gain entry; examine course structures for flexibility and provide multi-level student support.