Academic journal article Creative Nursing

Socialization of Nontraditional Nursing Students

Academic journal article Creative Nursing

Socialization of Nontraditional Nursing Students

Article excerpt

Nurse educators are challenged to meet the needs of nontraditional students in mobil- ity nursing programs. Increasing student diversity and a projected nursing shortage make retention, ensuring student success, and facilitating entrance into the profession the top priorities for educators. The role of peer support in the success of nontraditional students in a mobility program in the Midwest was explored through semistructured interviews with 10 graduates. Participants reported developing collegial relationships with other students; when friendships formed, caring connections, shared learning, and collaboration occurred. Nurse educators can encourage relationship building be- tween students and facilitate shared learning among student groups.

Keywords: language barriers; mobility nursing program; peer support; nontraditional students; student success

The nursing workforce is facing a looming shortage primarily because of impending retirement of nurses of the baby boom generation (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2012). The nursing student population is be- coming more diverse, with increases in male students, students of color, and older students (Jeffreys, 2007a). Mobility nursing programs provide an opportunity for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to advance to the registered nurse (RN) level of practice. For the purpose of this study, the LPN-to-associate degree RN program will be identified as the mobility program. Programs to facilitate this transition build on previous knowledge and experience, and attract nontraditional students, who are at higher risk for attrition than their traditional counterparts (Childs, Jones, Nugent, & Cook, 2004; Jeffreys, 2007a, 2007b).

Jeffreys (2004) states that characteristics of nontraditional students may include the following:

* Older than 25 years

* English Language Learners

* Racial or ethnic minorities

* Male

* Parents of dependent children

* Commuters

* Part-time

* Have GEDs rather than high school diplomas

* Require remedial classes (p. 7)


Studies were examined for strength and level of evidence using evaluation tools provided by the Johns Hopkins Nursing Evidence-based Practice: Model and Guide- lines (Newhouse, Dearholt, Poe, Pugh, & White, 2007). The literature revealed that peer learning, whether formal or informal, can be an effective teaching strategy, and warrants further research. In addition, the findings of several studies iden- tified that nontraditional students face additional challenges to success in nurs- ing programs compared to their traditional counterparts, and are at higher risk for attrition (Childs et al., 2004; Jeffreys, 2007a, 2007b). Foreign-born and minority students consistently identified barriers to success such as feelings of social isola- tion, lack of financial resources, perceived racism, and a lack of understanding by faculty and peers (Amaro, Abriam-Yago, & Yoder, 2006; Brown, 2008; Childs et al., 2004; Davidhizar & Shearer, 2005; Gardner, 2005a, 2005b; Gardner, 2005c; Jeffreys, 2007b; Nugent, Childs, Jones, & Cook, 2004).

A perceived lack of peer interactions was identified as a barrier to success (Amaro et al., 2006; Brown, 2008; Gardner, 2005a; Nugent et al., 2004), whereas peer interactions were perceived as a benefit (Brown, 2008; Carter & Xu, 2007; Richardson & Brown, 2009). Peer interactions, both formal and informal, were felt to be positive learning experiences; and further research was recommended to examine peer relationships in nursing education (Amaro et al., 2006; Gardner, 2005a; Higgins, 2004; Jeffreys, 2007a, 2007b; Morrison & Jenkins, 2007; Noone, Carmichael, Carmichael, & Chiba, 2007; Robinson & Niemer, 2010; Secomb, 2008).

In a qualitative study of a heterogeneous group of nursing students in the United Kingdom, Roberts (2008) concluded that the importance of informal learning from friends is underestimated in clinical learning. …

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