Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Nursing students decision to stay the course: A qualitative case study

Alison Stull, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Nursing students are preparing for a career that has been identified in the literature as stressful, and, that stress seems to begin in nursing school. Nursing student stress contributes to high rates of student turnover and attrition, a concern directly linked to the current and serious shortage of nurses not only in this country, but worldwide. Therefore, it behooves nurse educators to better understand what motivates their students to persist in their nursing programs. Accordingly, the purpose of this qualitative case-study was to understand what drove selected nursing students to persist in their nursing education despite the reported stress and associated difficulties encountered as a student and anticipated as a working professional. ^ To introduce the concept of stress and generate interest in participating in the pilot study and/or the interview portion of the study, the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) (Cohen, Kamarck & Mermelstein, 1983), was administered to a pool of 22 senior nursing students enrolled in a baccalaureate nursing education program in the Midwest. Subsequent to PSS administration, ten self-selected persons interested in being a pilot study participant and/or contributing to the interview portion of the study were obtained. Two pilot interviews were conducted to confirm the appropriateness of the methodology, the use of in-depth interviews, and the general topic areas of the interview protocol. Following analysis of the pilot study, participant data was collected from eight individuals. Semi-structured interview questions focused on issues reported in the literature, such as stress, stress in nursing education and in the nursing profession, and motivation. ^ Themes revealed by the data analysis suggested enrolling in and completing a program of study in nursing was influenced by the desire to be a nurse, coping with being overwhelmed, interpersonal relationships, personal growth, and evolving views of nursing as a career. The outcome of the study was a model depicting six significant factors related to persistence in nursing education: (1) motivation; (2) the experience of stress; (3) coping with stress; (4) experience gained while practicing as an LPN; (5) influence of interpersonal relationships; and (6) anticipation of the registered nurse role. Implications and recommendations were also presented. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Education|Education, Administration|Education, Guidance and Counseling

Recommended Citation

Stull, Alison, "Nursing students decision to stay the course: A qualitative case study" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3302018.