Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

NURSING STUDENTS' PERCEPTIONS of Their Chosen Profession

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

NURSING STUDENTS' PERCEPTIONS of Their Chosen Profession

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

It has been suggested that students enter nursing programs with strong images of the profession and specific expectations of their educational experiences. However, little is known about the impact of initial clinical experiences on students' perceptions of the profession. Research using a perception of nursing inventory demonstrated that sophomore students entered nursing valuing the profession and with positive perceptions of practice. They generally maintained these views through their first clinical experiences. The students had less positive perceptions about public opinions of nursing that were also unchanged after a semester of classroom and clinical experiences. Although scores on the nursing practice and nursing value scales of the inventory did not differ significantly from initial scores after one semester of clinical experience, the majority of students believed their perceptions changed after their first clinical experiences.

Key Words Image of Nursing * Perceptions of Nursing Practice * Nursing Students * Valuing of Nursing

THE CURRENT SHORTAGE OF PRACTICING NURSES has been likened to a perfect storm, the result of a convergence of forces including increased demand, decreased supply, and unsatisfactory work environments (1). It remains at the forefront of health-care-related issues in the United States today. Although enrollments in nursing programs are increasing, they are not sufficient to meet projected needs, especially given the high number of nurses who will soon reach retirement age (2,3). Therefore, retaining students who enter nursing programs through graduation and entry into the nursing workforce is an important goal. * How students perceive the nursing profession upon entry into a nursing education program, and whether their perceptions change as they experience the world of nursing firsthand, may provide clues about their decisions to remain in nursing and their selection of practice settings after graduation. This research study was designed to investigate student perceptions about the value and practice of nursing and how the public values the profession early in the students' nursing education and six months later. Three research questions were asked:

* What are sophomore baccalaureate students' perceptions of the nursing profession prior to their first classroom and clinical experiences?

* What factors may have influenced the formation of these perceptions?

* In what ways do students' perceptions of the nursing profession change following their first classroom and clinical experiences?

Literature Review A review of the literature revealed few studies that addressed American nursing students' perceptions about the nursing profession. However, some pertinent studies were conducted in countries outside the United States. In an investigation of British nursing students' general perceptions about nursing, Spouse (4) found that students enter nursing with personal frameworks that are either strengthened or altered, depending on the support they receive from others. Students who left the nursing program were reported to more often hold stereotypical views of the profession.

Watson, Deary, and Lea used the Nursing Dimensions Inventory (NDI) and Caring Dimensions Inventory (GDI) to investigate perceptions among Scottish nursing students (5). Respondents rated the importance of specific bedside nursing skills as being representative of either nursing or caring. Upon entering a nursing program, students tended to view caring and nursing as separate entities; after 12 and 24 months of nursing education, they viewed them as more similar. They also became less idealistic about the profession during the time they spent in the nursing education program.

Watson and colleagues also used the NDI to investigate whether there were differences in how nursing students, non-nursing students, professional nurses, and patients in the United Kingdom and Spain perceived the importance of specific aspects of direct nursing care (6). …

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