Why the high drop out rate of nursing students?

  1. 0
    Here is my question for educators.

    I'm wondering how to decrease the drop out rate in nursing schools but I first need to know what the students reasons are for dropping out.

    My thought is that some students apply because they want to be a nurse but like most of the general public don't know exactly what a nurse does besides follow MD orders, administer medications and make patients comfortable. They are surprised when they find out how much more is involved including the extra heavy load of coursework/study time and figured it was more then they bargained for and leave. Am I way off base here or is there a percentage of student's that fit this category?

    What are the more common reasons for student leaving school?

    What is the drop out rate at your school?

    Thanks, Karen

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  2. 104 Comments...

  3. 0
    I'm not sure I would want to commit to the goal of "reducing the drop out rate". Nursing is a demanding and difficult profession. If you discover you aren't cut out for nursing while in school-good for you- drop out before you end up miserable or leaving the profession earily. The only way of reducing the drop out rate that makes sense is to find a way to "pre screen" students for aptitude and intrest before they take a position in the school. In my area thare is a strong outreach to local high schoolers to let them know about nursing as a career. They have a number of "pre nursing" programs in the local schools that allow kids to spend a day on a floor shadowing a nurse to see what nursing as all about. I can tell you , if I had known then what I know now you wouldn't be getting this reply from me on "AllNurses.com"-maybe "all travelagents.com", or "allbartenders.com", or "all.........
  4. 4
    Well, I just finished my first semester of nursing school and out of 43 students, I believe we lost about 1/3. Reasons included realizing nursing isn't the career for them or they were failing. Between a high attrition rate and a low NCLEX pass rate, the nursing program is making some changes (finally!!!). They've raised their grading scale so that to pass nursing you need at least an 80. They feel that if you aren't getting at least an 80, you'll have a harder time passing the NCLEX. They are also raising the admission criteria, requiring that applicants have at least a B in the major prereqs such as A&P. I'm all for it as it will mean that merit actually will count and those nursing applicants that really work hard and want it will have a better chance of getting in faster.

    Jessy_RN, island40, showbizrn, and 1 other like this.
  5. 13
    Some may not appreciate this reply but, well...

    I think a big part of the problem is that nursing is not perceived as a career for the "best and the brightest." In general (there are plenty of exceptions), the best and the brightest major in science, engineering, etc. So that leaves nursing with a lot of average or below average students who really can't hack it.

    I actually think nursing curriculum should be significantly more difficult. Of course, that would turn off a ton of people in the short run but in the long term we could potentially (along with other actions that are also pie-in-the-sky thinking but I can wish anyway) begin attracting more of the "best and the brightest" and improve the standard of nursing knowledge for the entire profession.
  6. 2
    In my state (I can't speak for any others), the number of "slots" or "seats" in each nursing program is authorized by the state BON based on the number of students the school/faculty can accommodate given the established/required student/faculty ratios. Schools have to apply to the BON and demonstrate that they have sufficient faculty and clinical sites (to accommodate the greater number of students) in order to get permission to accept more students. So, no, what you describe is not a factor, or even a possibility, in my state.
    Last edit by sirI on Nov 17, '08 : Reason: quoted deleted post
    showbizrn and NRSKarenRN like this.
  7. 8
    I can't speak for every school...but at my school, it's a wonder they don't have more students dropping out. My school program has been nothing short of a disappointment.

    The faculty are not teaching us nursing. They lecture, but questions are treated as a "nuisence" and an "interruption". We have two days of lecture and an exam. Exams are not covered in class so all of us can benefit from each other's mistakes.

    Pharmacology is a self-taught course...so personally, other than the book, I don't think that we should have to pay for it. I didn't sign up for a distance-learning nursing program, I signed up for a CAMPUS based nursing program.

    Complaints? Like talking to a brick wall. It doesn't matter if you have the signature of every single nursing student protesting something...it falls on deaf ears.

    We had a question on one exam where 100% of the students missed it. Every one.. Do you think that question got thrown out? Nope...b/c the professor insisted that she went over the subject matter in class...but my recording of the lecture states otherwise...but if you tell her she's wrong...she'll just ban recordings. Not the first time it happened either.

    Think one question doesn't make any difference? It does....ONE question caused me to get a B instead of an A this semester...you think I can argue that? Nope.

    This is what I call the "God complex"...and it has no place in education. There is a distinct difference between people being in charge vs thinking they are incapable of making a mistake.

    I can't even tell you what drugs are common in a hospital because no one has ever told us. I can tell you the adverse affects of probalby over 100 drugs by now, but probably can't tell you what any of them are SUPPOSED to be prescribed for...b/c they don't teach us that....so how am I supposed to double-check behind a doctor to protect myself legally?

    Clinicals, are a joke.

    We go into the facility, we are assigned to an LPN (in a RN program), and our instructor disappears for the rest of the shift. No one watches anything I am doing. I was sent in to do a head to toe post partum assessment on a patient with a c-section...(24 hours post-op).

    They sent me in KNOWING I had never done one before nor had we covered this in class at all. I never saw anyone go in and check behind me. This woman could have easily had something seriously wrong with her and I wouldn't have known the difference.

    The staff at the hospitals that we are paired with never seem to know anything about what we can and cannot do as nursing students. Some of them don't even want to be paired with a student that day--and you quickly figure that out after you get snapped at a few times.

    If you go to the instructors with an issue, I get, "You'll be fine" or "You worry too much". They don't seem to care that I CARE about my progress.

    I can't speak for all schools...just mine. If I could finish my coursework at another school I would by now.

    I am doing an externship this summer because I feel I'll be in trouble post-graduate if I don't.
    Last edit by justme1972 on May 20, '08
    superZONic, lizmatt, Jessy_RN, and 5 others like this.
  8. 1
    This is not done. Can you imagine the stress and hardship involved on instructors who would have to do this?
    The failure of students to make the grade is extremely stressful on the instructors, who evaluate and reevaluate instruction methods and test questions and content ad nauseum. Programs are not designed to flunk students...the students are the ones who flunk a program. It is a rigorous program by design...it must be!...thank god for that as these students will be taking care of me and mine someday!

    Is it worse on one's self esteem to flunk out of a community college than somewhere else?
    Last edit by sirI on Nov 17, '08 : Reason: quoted deleted post
    Farmer Jane likes this.
  9. 6
    First, why shouldn't school make you cry?

    Second, in my experience students have the ability to take classes over once. If they can't hack it twice they probably need to consider another field. I do think the option to go part time is good for people who have a lot of obligations in other areas of their lives, but ultimately they have to be able to grit their teeth and do it. If a part time student fails a course twice do we really want that person as a nurse?

    Nursing should not be a charity degree--you have to earn it, and not everyone can.
    Jessy_RN, Jarnaes, BlueRidgeHomeRN, and 3 others like this.
  10. 2
    I think a parttime program is a good idea, but we do not offer one. Special consessions can not be made for just a few...you might be surprised how much attention students pay to each other and the "evey-stevies" out there do not allow us much flexibility about making allowances for some students. I encourage students to drop by our faculty offices to seek clarification on any topic, to review tests, to solidify a concept. I like them to come in small groups as this encourages a "group think" activity that helps them in study groups and builds a good rapport b/w students and faculty...NO INTIMIDATION FACTOR ALLOWED!
    That said, the faculty cannot be personal tutors. There is some kind of study center in all schools, and students must seek these self-help services on their own. It's often times free.
    I can't say enough how important study groups are!
    Good luck!
    Last edit by sirI on Nov 17, '08 : Reason: quoted deleted post
    showbizrn and lindarn like this.
  11. 2
    Wow, you educators are a passionate group! But...as a former nursing student, I've gotta put my 2 cents in here.
    I had an instructor that just plain hated me, and she was a lousy instructor. Never saw her on clinical days, her lectures were ill prepared, and the exams she gave us, well, I'd guess she wrote them on the way to the exam. Our DON, actually reviewed our final exam, with us, and all of our instructors present.(btw, huge learning experience-that review) She eliminated one question; just one. Guess what....because of that I passed the course. Interestingly enough, I scored highest in the class on the NLN exam for the same subject.
    So what happens to the student that may have bagged it, vs. another whole year of college (hey, it's not cheap)? I have been a nurse for 30 years. I remain passionate about giving the best possible nursing care, (yeah sure, I've had my periods of burn out, took a vacation).
    Some people do not belong in nursing, no question about it. It's hard work. But, learning should NOT MAKE STUDENTS CRY!, Struggle, sweat, scream, throw the books out the window in frustration....but not cry. I remember every single one of my teachers. I learned the most from those that were either 1). passionate about nursing or 2).passionate about teaching. Of course the best held both of those qualities.
    We desperatly need good nurses coming into the profession, we are a dying breed. In my area we have a huge shortage of educators, hence few students. How do you, as educators, identify the potential great nurse, with the just average success in acedemia?
    Here's my question...Who is going to take care of us???? The average nurse is ancient (myself included). Scarey eh?
    *LadyJane* and showbizrn like this.

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