COWIN L.S. & JOHNSON M. (2011) Many paths lead to nursing: factors influencing students' perceptions of nursing. International Nursing Review58, 413–419
Background: A diverse group of students is being recruited to nursing programmes worldwide, although little research has identified the effect of this diversity. Contemporary knowledge of the qualities of nurses and how they vary with demographic and other factors may assist in the retention of nursing students.
Aim: The aim of this study is to explore student nurses' perceptions of the qualities of nurses and how these differ with age, country of birth, gender, healthcare experience and mode of entry to the nursing programme.
Methods: Using a descriptive comparative design, 676 nursing students in their first week of a Bachelor of Nursing programme participated (77% response). Participants completed a survey noting demographic data such as age, gender, healthcare experience, country of birth, nursing programme entry method and attributes of nurses from the valid and reliable Qualities of Nursing Scale (QoN).
Results: Overall, the students confirmed their agreement with the 12 items of the QoN and rated good listening skills as the most important quality for a nurse rather than Caring or Helping. Male participants and participants born overseas demonstrated the lowest mean scores on most qualities, suggesting less agreement with the qualities.
Discussion: The recruitment of students to university needs to continue to support disparate entry pathways. Students with more life experience (older students) or health experience may be more likely to complete nursing courses and to be retained within health services. Qualities of nurses may be changing to reflect modern perceptions of nurses with a shift away from the focus on caring.