Academic journal article Community College Enterprise

Reducing Nursing Student Attrition: The Search for Effective Strategies

Academic journal article Community College Enterprise

Reducing Nursing Student Attrition: The Search for Effective Strategies

Article excerpt

This review of the literature summarizes recent exploration of nursing student attrition. Attrition places financial burdens on students who leave a program, results in lost revenue for the college, and compounds the existing nursing shortage. Some research investigated the student selection process, which seeks to decrease attrition by admitting only those students most likely to be successful in the program. Other studies focused on retaining the already-enrolled students. Cognitive, as well as noncognitive factors, were found to affect attrition. Community colleges, where the vast majority of associate degree nurses are educated, are uniquely positioned to help meet the challenge of increasing the supply of nurses to meet the increasing demand. Community colleges are called upon to become actively engaged in investigating this problem, and to implement evidence-based strategies aimed at reducing attrition of nursing students. Keywords: nursing students, attrition, retention, community colleges, associate degree

Associate degree nursing education began in the early 1950s, in response to a shortage of registered nurses after World War II (Mahaffey, 2002). This shortage resulted in the need to produce technically skilled bedside nurses within a relatively short timeframe. Hospital diploma and university baccalaureate professional nursing programs could not meet the demand, and community college associate degree nursing programs were established to fill the need. Today, over 1,000 community colleges throughout the United States are actively engaged in educating students who will be able to enter the workforce as associate degree registered nurses. Many of these graduates will immediately, or eventually, pursue a baccalaureate degree or higher in nursing. In the past 60 years, community colleges have educated many thousands of associate degree nurses (ADNs) who have been, and still are, critical to the functioning of this country's health care system. Yet this nation is again faced with a significant nursing shortage, with a projected shortfall of more than 300,000 RNs by the year 2020 (Juraschek, Zhang, Ranganathan, & Lin, 2012). Once again, community colleges are being called upon to provide critically needed solutions to this ever-expanding problem.

One might logically reason that the nursing shortage can be resolved simply by attracting more nurses into the field; however, this would not be an effective solution, because the shortage is not related to a lack of interest in the profession of nursing. Currently, nursing programs in this country turn away thousands of well-qualified applicants each year, almost 69,000 in 2014 alone (American Association of College of Nursing, 2015). Another obvious suggestion might be simply to increase the number of nursing programs in order to accommodate the thousands of well-qualified students who are being denied admission due to lack of space. Unfortunately, that is not a viable solution, because there are not enough clinical sites available to meet the existing demand for them, and there is also an existing shortage of qualified nursing faculty (Juraschek et al., 2012).

Further compounding the existing shortage is the fact that student attrition in nursing programs results in the loss of significant numbers of potential nursing graduates each year. Attrition rates can approach 50% for nursing students (Harris, Rosenberg, & Grace O'Rourke, 2014). Regardless of why students leave a nursing program, whether due to academic failure or another reason, they leave vacant slots that are difficult to fill, since nursing programs are typically rigidly structured and sequenced. Therefore, it is imperative to keep attrition as low as possible, without sacrificing the ability of graduates to successfully pass the national licensure exam. Community colleges have an important responsibility to their students, to their institutions, to their local communities, and to the nation at large, to find effective ways of increasing retention of the students admitted to their nursing programs. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.