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An exploration of attrition, retention, and predictors of success in associate degree nursing programs

Eileen M Neville, University of Massachusetts Amherst


With vacancies in the roster of registered nurses increasing, and the number of graduating nurses dropping, there is a clear need to improve not only recruitment, but retention and success rates in nursing programs. This study surveyed directors and former students of associate degree nursing programs in Massachusetts on their perception of factors affecting attrition and retention of students in these programs, as well as on what measures assist nursing students to pass the registered nurse licensing examination. It is anticipated that the results will be useful in developing steps to limit attrition and promote retention in nursing programs.^ The annual reports of nursing directors to the state Board of Registration in Nursing were reviewed. In a pilot study, the state's 15 community college nursing directors were surveyed on nursing student attrition and retention.^ A random sample of 115 nursing program students, provided by the directors of two rural schools and two urban schools, was surveyed by questionnaire. This group included (1) those who left or failed a nursing program; (2) those who succeeded in a nursing program and in passing the licensing examination; and, (3) those who succeeded in the nursing program but failed the licensing examination.^ Frequency tables were used to tally responses and determine rank order. What percentage of the total sample chose a particular response and the weight each response was assigned by respondents is also given.^ The questionnaire responses of the nursing program directors and the former nursing students on attrition, retention and success on the national examination were compared, as were also the responses from the rural and urban area schools.^ The three major reasons for attrition are (1) family responsibilities and the stress of juggling home life and school; (2) failure in nursing courses; (3) inadequate finances. Peer study groups, positive and caring faculty, concerned advising, completing non-nursing courses prior to taking the nursing curriculum, and an orientation that informs students about the nurse's role and teaches time and stress management, were considered critical to retention.^ Recommendations for nursing education, practice, and research, based on the conclusions from this study, are offered. ^

Subject Area

Community college education|Health Sciences, Education|Nursing

Recommended Citation

Neville, Eileen M, "An exploration of attrition, retention, and predictors of success in associate degree nursing programs" (1993). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9329649.