Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Effects of a Retention Intervention Program for Associate Degree Nursing Students

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Effects of a Retention Intervention Program for Associate Degree Nursing Students

Article excerpt

Retention, attrition, and graduation rates are measures of student success and persistence within a nursing program. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), formerly the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), defines retention as the "number of students who complete the program within 150% of the stated program length" (ACEN, 2013). This definition was used by an associate degree nursing program at a large commu- nity college in northern Nevada to compare its retention rate in 2007 to the national rate reported by the ACEN.

The four-semester nursing program had a six-semester retention rate of 64 percent, in contrast to the national rate of 73.2 percent (NLNAC, 2010). The four-semester rate was about 50 percent. Former students readmit- ted to the program were swelling class sizes, so, with the goal of improving its retention rate, the college applied for and was awarded a three-year grant from the US Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration in May 2008.

The grant funded the creation of the Northern Nevada Nursing Retention Program (NNNRP), which provided sev- eral services, individually or in combina- tion, that the literature had shown to be effective for student nurse retention. The services included academic learning plans (Jeffreys, 2007; Sayles & Shelton, 2005), peer tutoring (Blowers, Ramsey, Merriman, & Grooms, 2003; Courage & Godbey, 1992; Valencia-Go, 2005), mentoring (Candela, Kowalski, Cyrkiel, & Warner, 2004), learn- ing communities (Dodge & Kendall, 2004; McLaughlin, 2008), and academic, personal, and career counseling (Robshaw & Smith, 2004; Sayles & Shelton; Schultz, 1998; Valencia-Go). The services fit within Jeffreys' (2004) model of Nursing Undergraduate Retention and Success (NURS). Collectively, they met the model's definition of an enrich- ment program created to improve the reten- tion of nursing students and having a posi- tive impact on the entire nursing student experience (Jeffreys, 2004).

The NNNRP added to the group of services a comprehensive nursing program orientation, workshops on test anxiety, and referrals to outside counseling for students with nonacademic issues. NNNRP staff included a full-time academic adviser/coun- selor, a full-time community nurse mentor coordinator, and a half-time program coordi- nator. A part-time tutor coordinator and an administrative assistant were added midway through the grant.


The nursing program awarded an associate in applied science degree after completion of 72 credits. Admission requirements included a minimum score on a standardized admis- sion assessment measuring knowledge of anatomy and physiology, microbiology, math, vocabulary, and language skills and reading comprehension. A minimum overall grade point average of 2.75, a 3.0 grade point aver- age in the prerequisite science course work, and completion of a college-level math course were also required.

From fall 2008 through spring 2010, all 211 students admitted to the college's nurs- ing program were offered enrollment in the NNNRP. A total of 218 students - includ- ing some readmitted students from pre-grant cohorts - were served over the life of the grant. In spring 2008, institutional review board approval for the research study was received, and 137 grant students agreed to participate. Participation in both the grant and the research study were voluntary, and a few students elected not to participate in either.

The overall goal of the NNNRP was to improve retention in the nursing program without impacting the program's consistently high licensure exam pass rate. The research study was expected to find that overall reten- tion of students had improved, with partici- pation in each retention service, the intensity of service participation, and/or participa- tion in multiple services correlating with increased retention.

This article presents the effects of pro- gram services on overall retention in the nurs- ing program over six semesters, the effects of individual services on retention, the degree of student satisfaction with each of the program services, and related demographics for the research participants. …

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