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Keywords:

  • career choice;
  • clinical placement;
  • nursing student;
  • professional role;
  • socialization

McKenna L, McCall L, Wray N. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2010; 16: 176–182 Clinical placements and nursing students' career planning: A qualitative exploration

Many nursing students enter undergraduate programmes with preconceived ideas about their future nursing careers, and intend to practice in particular areas such as midwifery or paediatrics. Through clinical placements, students are exposed to different clinical areas and professional socialization is facilitated. However, little is known about the influence of clinical placements on students' career intentions. This paper reports nursing findings drawn from a large qualitative study conducted in Victoria, Australia that sought to explore the influence of health professional students' clinical placements on their future career intentions. Participants were invited to be involved in either face-to-face or focus group interviews depending upon their own preference. Thematic data analysis revealed three main themes: ‘re-affirming career choice’, ‘working in a particular area’ and ‘work location’. Findings from the study add to our understanding of factors influencing nursing students' planning for their future careers including the impact of clinical placements.