Friday, 18 September 2015

What happens when a nursing student becomes a nurse?

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Nursing student and registered nurse attrition is an international phenomenon as this study from Australia by Cowin and Johnson (2105) titled: 'From student to graduate: longitudinal changes in the qualities of nurses' points out.  One particular point of attrition is when nursing students enter practice for the first time and, as the recent Shape of Caring review in the UK by Lord Willis suggests, a period of support once nurses enter practice for the first time should become the norm.

The study by Cowin and Johnson (2015) shows that good qualities such a caring and empathy tend to increase across the course of a nursing education programme.  However, when faced with the realities of clinical practice 'workplace misfit' is experienced and scores in these desirable qualities decline.

In the words of the authors: 'An important finding from this study is that the pattern of change was not a linear one where qualities are initially rated low, increasing each year until the highest rating is at the workplace. Rather, there is a trend in many qualities where there is an increase in 3rd year and a sharp decline on entering practice...' and conclude: 'Our educational and clinical experiences for students are supporting the development of qualities of the nurse that have the potential to provide superior healthcare to patients. How to best support the initial 
graduate years remains the immediate challenge.'

You can listen to this as a podcast.


Cowin L. S. & Johnson M. (2015From student to graduate: longitudinal changes in the qualities of nurses. Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12763

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