Learning and leaving : a study of interrelationships among innovation in nursing education, professional attitudes and wastage from nursing

  • Stephanie Fox

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    The purpose of this study was to examine some of the interrelationships between innovation in nursing education, professional attitudes and wastage from nursing. Five groups of students who participated in innovative nurse education courses in A.C.T. hospitals in the 1970’s were surveyed by a self administered questionnaire which gathered biographical data as well as attitudinal information. Their responses were compared with those of students who had undertaken a traditional nursing course at an A.C.T. hospital in the same period. The findings of this study suggested that the instrument used may provide a better measure of satisfaction with nursing than of professional attitudes. One of the unexpected findings from the survey which suggested the need for further study was that many of those who had undertaken further nursing study indicating apparent commitment to continuing education in a chosen career would not encourage others to enter nursing. Another was that those who indicated greater career choice commitment may in fact be those who felt unable to obtain alternative employment. It was found that innovation in hospital based nurse education courses attracted different people and produced graduates with different attitudes to professional issues, who followed different career pathways compared to graduates of traditional nurse education courses. Innovative courses appear to have attracted older and better qualified entrants and to have increased the likelihood of graduates being promoted. Respondents from the innovative courses showed increased interest in continuing education and Professional Association activity than their control group colleagues. They were more frustrated with the traditional role of the nurse as the selfless, dedicated worker and were less committed to their career choice. overall these findings perhaps indicated a level of dissatisfaction with nursing higher in the innovative course graduates than in the control group. These findings may support Brief’s contention {1976) that expectations raised during the educational process, if not fulfilled, will lead to wastage. Wastage from nursing was intimately linked with dissatisfaction with work conditions in nursing. Those who had permanently left nursing had more frequently left for work related reasons and undertaken non-nursing study than those who had left and returned or who had never left. Those who left for work related reasons were less likely to return and less likely to choose nursing again if given the chance than those who left for other reasons. Findings about the institutionalisation of innovation in nursing education were difficult to identify with certainty, since time lapse alone could explain many of the findings. Attitudes to the Professional Association were more favourable in respondents from the later intakes into the innovative courses than from the earlier. Given the recent increases in industrial activity in nursing, this finding is consistent with time lapse. Later intakes also demonstrated greater commitment to continuing education than earlier. This too can probably be explained by the greater availability of such facilities in more recent times. In a period of shortages of nurses prepared to work in the health care facilities of Australia, and of changes in the educational preparation of nurses, the findings of this study relating to attitudes and wastage should be used as the basis for future workforce planning.
    Date of Award1986
    Original languageEnglish

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