The nursing student experience : student perceptions concerning factors leading to success in an associate of science in nursing program at Montana State University-Northern
Pappas, Mary Weber
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Retention of nursing students in nursing programs throughout the country is a concern in this time of serious nursing shortages. Educating nursing students is expensive, and when students do not persist in a nursing program, valuable resources are taken from other students who may be successful. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to discover and understand the program and personal factors that current students, graduates, and previous nonpersistent students reported as helping students in the associate of science in nursing program at Montana State University-Northern persist to graduation. The study also explored program and personal factors that current students, graduates, and previous nonpersistent students reported as contributing to leaving the associate of science in nursing program. A questionnaire was developed by the researcher using concepts from the literature review. For the quantitative portion of this mixed methods study, 114 questionnaires were returned from the population of 191 students who were admitted into the program in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Responses to this questionnaire are presented in percentages of responses for each participant type.Twenty-four participants were interviewed for the qualitative portion of this study. Those interviewed consisted of 8 current students, 8 graduates, and 8 previous nonpersistent students. Findings consisted of 21 themes. The major themes were that program factors of relationships between faculty and students, support of peers, and specific factors of the curriculum were perceived as resulting in success in the program. Personal factors that students perceived as helping them be successful include determination and commitment to the goal of being a nurse, support from family members, realization of how hard the program is, and positive self-esteem. Recommendations include developing strategies to promote faculty-student contact, encouraging student contact with other students to develop peer support, making specific curriculum changes, investigating financial resources so that students do not have to work so many hours while in the program, increasing prerequisites to the nursing program, and providing students with assistance in test-taking strategies, study skills, and stress management.