It's a hard process – nursing students’ lived experiences leading to dropping out of their education. A qualitative study.

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Background: Dropout from nursing education is a serious problem worldwide. Student nurse attrition has a profound effect not only on the nursing profession and patient care, but also on the students themselves. Dropout is recognized as a complex phenomenon that has multiple causes. A more detailed and nuanced understanding of the complexity behind dropout is needed if we are to retain more nursing students. Aim: To explore the students' experiences and considerations before dropping out and their reflections after dropping out to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that prompted them to leave their nursing education. Design/method: A qualitative explorative design inspired by Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics was used to explore the students' lived experiences and considerations concerning dropping out. Qualitative telephone interviews were conducted on 15 nursing students. Results: The analysis revealed three main themes that disclosed and elucidated the nursing students' reasons for dropping out: (i) Resources to make a difference and help others; (ii) Clinical practice was more demanding than expected; (iii) The learning environment was important – the social environment was essential. Conclusion: The students encountered a lack of support to deal with the difficult emotions that arose when witnessing serious illness and death. They expressed feeling overwhelmed by their vulnerability and called for support to develop resilience. The social environment and a sense of belonging to the nursing profession were cited by students as being essential to this support.

TidsskriftNurse Education Today
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2023


  • education, professions and jobs


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