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Nursing drop out rate at 50% - why?

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    Reports show around 50% of nursing students drop out of their course, and as many as 76% at one (unnamed) university.

    Why do you think this is? Have you dropped out of a nursing course?
    I'm a student journalist and thinking of writing a feature about it, so I'd love to hear your thoughts here, and if you or someone you know has dropped out of a nursing course, I'd really like to speak to you. Get in touch and I'll pass on my email address.

    What is it that is so challenging about the nursing course? The cost? The responsibility? The structure? I'd love to know...
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    (Original post by MaddyPotts90)
    Reports show around 50% of nursing students drop out of their course, and as many as 76% at one (unnamed) university.

    Why do you think this is? Have you dropped out of a nursing course?
    I'm a student journalist and thinking of writing a feature about it, so I'd love to hear your thoughts here, and if you or someone you know has dropped out of a nursing course, I'd really like to speak to you. Get in touch and I'll pass on my email address.

    What is it that is so challenging about the nursing course? The cost? The responsibility? The structure? I'd love to know...
    I think there are severeal reasons:

    - Some people go into nursing thinking that it's going to be like holby city/casualty and it really isn't.... The media has a lot of misconceptions of what life as a nurse is like and people tend to believe them...

    - A lot of nursing students are mature and financially they might feel like they can't afford it a year or so down the line and quit

    - I think academically some people also just can't hack it.

    - It's stressful in that time management is key working a full 37.5 hour week and having to study and write assignments is tough work
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    I think that some people may choose it because they don't realise how physically and academically demanding it will be.
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    (Original post by restoration)
    I think there are severeal reasons:

    - Some people go into nursing thinking that it's going to be like holby city/casualty and it really isn't.... The media has a lot of misconceptions of what life as a nurse is like and people tend to believe them...

    - A lot of nursing students are mature and financially they might feel like they can't afford it a year or so down the line and quit

    - I think academically some people also just can't hack it.

    - It's stressful in that time management is key working a full 37.5 hour week and having to study and write assignments is tough work
    @Restoration, not sure if you're speaking from personal experience or not, but do you think that if this is the case then better information about the content of the course for prospective students would help to cut the drop-out rate?

    I mean, obviously the fact that the NHS has to partly fund the courses means that it should be deeply concerned with cutting these high levels of students who don't complete the course?
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    (Original post by MaddyPotts90)
    @Restoration, not sure if you're speaking from personal experience or not, but do you think that if this is the case then better information about the content of the course for prospective students would help to cut the drop-out rate?

    I mean, obviously the fact that the NHS has to partly fund the courses means that it should be deeply concerned with cutting these high levels of students who don't complete the course?

    Sorry yeah this is from personal experience, I haven't dropped out but know people who have, I think at the interview stage maybe or even before it should be stressed that the course is demanding and that it doesn't leave you with a lot of free time, we were told but it wasn't really engrained into our heads, I think we were told to expect to be emotionally and physically challenged but I don't think thats enough emphasis on the challenges of doing a nursing degree. I don't know if it's something people may have to experience before they appreciate the effort needed to be put in or not, but I certainly underestimated how hard it would be. Yeah I do agree with you it is a waste of NHS funding to have so many trainee nurses drop out and so something needs to be done about it.
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    Like Restoration said, I think a lot of it has something to do with the image the media portrays of what nursing is like, from programs like Holby et al. Even Channel 4's confessions of a nurse didn't help much, even though it was supposed to be a candid look at modern nursing. A lot of the voiceovers were scripted and not the nurses own words. Universities do try to prepare people for what to expect, however the drop out after my first placement was really noticeable. Lots of empty seats in that first lecture back. Finances can be a struggle too, I struggled as a single mature student, I had to supplement my bursary with working part time which at times became detrimental to my studies.
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    I agree that there a lot of misconceptions about what nursing is all about.
    I too noticed a huge decline in numbers following our 1st placement and personally I feel its down to people coming onto the course who have never even set foot in a hospital and they just were out of their depth.
    A girl i lived with in halls dropped out because she got asked to go and clean someone up after they had basically pooed themselves. She didn't think that was what nurses did a lot of it is people like that being unaware of the role of a nurse.

    Financial implications are also a big reason why people drop out.
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    I am currently in this situation. I am struggling financially and may have to leave my course soon as I am not having any luck finding a part-time job. I am also afraid of how well I can cope with the academic side with having to work on top of it, I just don't think I'll be able to do it. As placement for me goes to 70% in 2nd year to 80% in the last, I feel socially I will feel extremely isolated and won't have time to see my friends who are not doing a healthcare course. There is only 18 of us left and all of them don't live in halls, apart from me. Financially they are okay and don't seem to have any problems, other than the academic side of the course.
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    i think it is the job itself, some people just cant deal with the pressure, the very long hours, having such a responsibilty or just realise its really not for them and that they will be wasting their own time and everyone elses in a job that they really arent suited to/dont like as it is tough and can be very emotional at times as well as scary - children not being able to breathe, having to support parents when they are crying and vulnerable, in my first year i had a child who legged it off the ward in the middle of the night while another was fitting and i had to run out and find her with her mum, children will die on the ward sometimes, responsibility of giving medications, taking children to theatre, as well as everything else that goes with it. not to mention when we come home after a 12 hour shift we still have a ton of reading/assignments/revision and having to wind down from a shift, only to do it all again after a very short amount of sleep. i do love it though, its just very tiring and scary at times.

    also, we dont get much money on the course, so some people may have to stop for financial reasons - i know if i didnt have the help of my family then i probably wouldnt manage at all, and im barely managing to get by as it is.

    my friend has just left the course, she was with my group in child branch and realised that she really doesnt want to care for children and wants to do adult nursing instead, which our uni wont let her switch to. she realised that if she just stuck it out then yes she would have got her qualifications and everything, but she wouldnt enjoy it and that would make her a rubbish nurse, so is in the process of trying to move to another uni, but that doesnt look like its gonna happen so has oficially left the course and last i heard was gonna start a job as a HCA at a care home instead.
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    Well, we started with about 105 and its now offically down to 80 on the register but thats after people have stepped back on after 6 months off.

    Some people it is that it wasn't what they were expecting, saying that, i was expecting it to be hard but not as hard as i'm finding it at the moment and it's only going to get worse from here on in. It can be very demanding as most of our assignments are given before placements start and trying to get work done on placement is hard, espically when you fall asleep on the bus home! There was a couple that got kicked off the course due to not doing the work or failing modules 3 times, the rules about modules are quite harsh in my opinion but they did tell us straight away.

    Financially it can be a nightmare, espically when on the degree and its being means tested, its okay when you live at home because its just placement costs etc but living away from home i struggled, that i've heard it why some people leave.

    I do think giving more information would help before people start to apply because when someone takes the place and starts then it cannot be offered out again which means that someone who may have stayed could have been rejected at first but not can't take the place up (not quite sure why this is tbh). Though i suppose that it partically down to the interviewers, its mainly down to them who they let in, they have to determine if they think the person has the passion and motivation to stay the length. Part of our interview process was to actually write a small 500 word peice stating what Nursing meant to us and it was looked down on if casualty and holby city was mentioned because they are not a real portrayal of the course at all.

    Though even if i have struggled and currently have no motivation on the theory side of it, not that i can't do it i just prefer the practicle, i wouldn't give it up for the world, the moment you get stuff right on wards in practice (espically like ICU/HDU) or a patient thinks you'll make a really good Nurse are worth the struggle in my opinion
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    It's because working as a nurse is so damn hard! It comes as a wake up call when you get on the wards and you realise how much responsibility you have and that the silliest thing can literally can be life or death. It's also apparent that it's impossible to do the job in the caring way you would like as there are simply not enough hands on deck, especially on elderly wards. It can be extremely stressful and you can physically and emotionally burn out very quickly without a lot of support.
    Dealing with blood, guts, poo (mostly poo), suffering and death, all day, has a habit of getting you down. Also nursing mentors have a habit of being very tough on students, the phrase "nurses eat their young" is true.
    I've got so much respect and admiration for those who stick with and do the job. I'm in my second year and I really hope I can make it through!
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    (Original post by missy7899)
    I agree that there a lot of misconceptions about what nursing is all about.
    I too noticed a huge decline in numbers following our 1st placement and personally I feel its down to people coming onto the course who have never even set foot in a hospital and they just were out of their depth.
    A girl i lived with in halls dropped out because she got asked to go and clean someone up after they had basically pooed themselves. She didn't think that was what nurses did a lot of it is people like that being unaware of the role of a nurse.

    Financial implications are also a big reason why people drop out.
    If this is contributing to the high drop out rate for nursing, why don't universities require work experience, as they do for medicine? Strange . . .
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    Most people that I know have worked in some kind of care capacity, so therefore they have had some experience.
    Nursing isnt what it used to be, I say that from personal experience - and yes I did clear up when patients were ill - it was part of the job
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    (Original post by moonkatt)
    Like Restoration said, I think a lot of it has something to do with the image the media portrays of what nursing is like, from programs like Holby et al. Even Channel 4's confessions of a nurse didn't help much, even though it was supposed to be a candid look at modern nursing. A lot of the voiceovers were scripted and not the nurses own words. Universities do try to prepare people for what to expect, however the drop out after my first placement was really noticeable. Lots of empty seats in that first lecture back. Finances can be a struggle too, I struggled as a single mature student, I had to supplement my bursary with working part time which at times became detrimental to my studies.
    I thought that programme got it exactly right! I'm a HCA rather than RGN and even if it was scripted I thought it hit the mark in my experiences!

    The drop out rates are high because students are still failing to get experience before starting. I think it should be compulsory to have some proper experience with the NHS before you can be accepted onto an NHS funded course. It's their money people just throw down the drain (or do you have to pay it back if you drop out?) I joined thinking nursing was what I wanted to do but turns out it really wasn't and I'm so glad I decided to get experience before committing to a course or I'd be one of those 50%.
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    (Original post by Origami Bullets)
    If this is contributing to the high drop out rate for nursing, why don't universities require work experience, as they do for medicine? Strange . . .
    They just ask for something relevant e.g. volunteering at a nursery etc. It is extremely difficult to obtain work experience in a hospital setting and those who do are still not allowed to participate in patient care. So i guess unless you are a mature student who has previously had employment in a care setting i.e care home, HCA etc. then it would be really hard to get the experience that is needed.
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    (Original post by missy7899)
    They just ask for something relevant e.g. volunteering at a nursery etc. It is extremely difficult to obtain work experience in a hospital setting and those who do are still not allowed to participate in patient care. So i guess unless you are a mature student who has previously had employment in a care setting i.e care home, HCA etc. then it would be really hard to get the experience that is needed.
    I can see how people straight out of school would struggle a bit, but having come into contact with domiciliary care workers, and with a bit of knowledge about how agencies work it seems that they will take anyone with a pulse and a CRB check, so it wouldn't seem unreasonable to ask anyone who had (say) had a gap year to come with some level of experience. And there are other legitimate forms of experience - having looked after a family member I know that I could never be a nurse, or work in care.

    To be fair though, medical students seem to manage to get suitable experience, and it has a substantially lower drop out rate.
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    (Original post by missy7899)
    They just ask for something relevant e.g. volunteering at a nursery etc. It is extremely difficult to obtain work experience in a hospital setting and those who do are still not allowed to participate in patient care. So i guess unless you are a mature student who has previously had employment in a care setting i.e care home, HCA etc. then it would be really hard to get the experience that is needed.

    (Original post by Origami Bullets)
    I can see how people straight out of school would struggle a bit, but having come into contact with domiciliary care workers, and with a bit of knowledge about how agencies work it seems that they will take anyone with a pulse and a CRB check, so it wouldn't seem unreasonable to ask anyone who had (say) had a gap year to come with some level of experience. And there are other legitimate forms of experience - having looked after a family member I know that I could never be a nurse, or work in care.

    To be fair though, medical students seem to manage to get suitable experience, and it has a substantially lower drop out rate.
    Speaking as a straight-out-of-school Nursing applicant, I would definitely not be happy going into a career which I'd had no experience of at all other than through the media. I don't personally see how anyone can be prepared for such a demanding career with no experience of it at all.

    It is sometimes difficult to get experience, but it's perfectly possible if people are willing to put in time and effort contacting organisations. As someone with no family/friends links to Nursing I've managed to get several placements in hospital, hospices, working with the disabled, homeless etc. I do think, for some applicants, lack of effort means they don't have relevant experience. I don't think finding any of my placements has been down to luck.
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    I'm not on a nursing course but I do spend a lot of time in hospitals, so I do see how much work is piled on nurses especially the ones that are still in training. So when I see some of the people in my college that have applied to study nursing, I can see that some of them really aren't cut out for that sort of life. Most of them do Health and Social Care so I would've thought that they'd understand a bit more what the actual role of a nurse is and the characteristics required but I was shocked when someone who had applied for adult nursing told me they didn't realise that nurses had to put in and remove cannulas. They thought that was solely the job of phlebotomists. Then there's the fact that you do have to work long hours, do lots of work and then go home to do assignments, whereas some of these people can't even meet their coursework deadlines despite the fact that they've already been given extension after extension.

    I think I'm rambling a bit, but I think universities should be a lot more strict on who they admit onto their courses. There are so many people I know that only go into nursing because it's quite esteemed and does lead to a job at the end, but they don't realise that you literally have to jump through hoops to become qualified. Maybe a shadowing scheme of some sort could be introduced? Even if it is just for a day, I'm sure that's better than nothing.

    Anyway, to all the nurses in training that take their work seriously I wish you all the best of luck!
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    (Original post by Origami Bullets)
    I can see how people straight out of school would struggle a bit, but having come into contact with domiciliary care workers, and with a bit of knowledge about how agencies work it seems that they will take anyone with a pulse and a CRB check, so it wouldn't seem unreasonable to ask anyone who had (say) had a gap year to come with some level of experience. And there are other legitimate forms of experience - having looked after a family member I know that I could never be a nurse, or work in care.

    To be fair though, medical students seem to manage to get suitable experience, and it has a substantially lower drop out rate.
    Lots of courses now want hospital based experience to be fair, I started my course fresh out of school and managed to get a year of hospital experience before applying, I deffinitely agree with having some experience before going into nursing it isn't what a lot of people expect it to be.

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