Preparation of student nurses for registration and healthcare delivery

Ashleigh Woods, RN/Midwife. Preparing and retaining the nursing workforce – keeping nurses and midwives in the profession. Photo credit: Southern Cross University

Nursing workforce shortages and continuing pressures on healthcare systems require health services and education providers to work collaboratively to support student nurses’ transition into practice, preparing and retaining a quality nursing workforce.

In recognition of this, a regional tertiary education provider has partnered with a NSW Local Health District (LHD) to conduct a longitudinal mixed method study evaluating a cohort of Bachelor of Nursing (BN) students completing placement at a NSW LHD. The study is to determine the preparation of student nurses and their retention within the nursing workforce. As part of this larger study, the collaborative partnership implemented a Work Integrated Learning Community (WILCo) model in which a cohort of BN (n=28) students experienced all of their clinical placements (8) within a single facility. A longitudinal qualitative approach was used to evaluate the student’s experience within the WILCo model.

Clinical placement is imperative to supporting the development of student nurses’ critical thinking and decision-making skills and their ability to apply their skills and knowledge in practice.1 Poor or negative experiences can impact the student’s intention to remain in the program and also their transition into clinical practice.2,3 Student attrition impacts inflow into the nursing workforce, and poor retention of new graduates is an economic burden and drains nursing workforce capacity.4 Due to this, there is a need for studies to ascertain the reasons behind a nurse’s decision to remain in or leave their undergraduate training, clinical area, or the nursing profession.

This collaborative study focuses on different aspects of the clinical placement experience and transition into practice. The WILCo arm of the study explored a new model for clinical placements in the local area. Results found that consistency in placement settings provided:

  • quality learning experiences;
  • created a sense of loyalty;
  • reinforced the intention to remain with the organisation;
  • built student confidence;
  • enriched student’s linking of theory to practice;
  • reduced student anxiety;
  • fostered a sense of belonging and team membership in the healthcare setting; and
  • developed a support network and collegiality among student peers.

As a result of this, the WILCo program is continuing and is being rolled out with other healthcare services connected to the education provider. This study is significant in contributing toward the retention of nurses and ensuring a workforce fit for practice.

1 Algoso M, Ramjan L, East L, Peters K. Undergraduate nursing assistant employment in aged care has benefits for new graduates. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2018;74(8):1932-54.
2 Chan ZCY, Cheng WY, Fong MK, Fung YS, Ki YM, Li YL, et al. Curriculum design and attrition among undergraduate nursing students: A systematic review. Nurse Education Today. 2019;74:41-53.
3 ten Hoeve Y, Castelein S, Jansen G, Roodbol P. Dreams and disappointments regarding nursing: Student nurses’ reasons for attrition and retention. A qualitative study design. Nurse Education Today. 2017;54:28-36.
4 Health Workforce Australia. Australia’s future health workforce – nurses overview. 2014.

Dr Felicity Walker PhD, BNursing (Hons), GradCertCritCareNurse is a Lecturer at Southern Cross University, Faculty of Health, Gold Coast Airport, Qld

Dr Nicola Whiteing PhD, RN, SFHEA, Southern Cross University, Faculty of Health, Gold Coast Airport, Qld

Associate Professor Christina Aggar RN BN(HONS), GRAD CERT HE, PhD is Professor, Nursing Research Conjoint Northern NSW Local Health District, Nursing and Midwifery Directorate Southern Cross University, Faculty of Health, Gold Coast Airport, Qld

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