The retention of student nurses continues to concern the education sector internationally. Evidence shows that individual factors are correlated with a high risk of attrition, including age, disability, entry qualifications, financial issues, and placement experience. This paper is a report of a study that aimed to examine factors connected to progression and attrition by mapping student characteristics against Year 1 progression data.
The study used a retrospective cohort design. Students within five cohorts in a single University in the north of England were invited to be included (n = 807). Quantitative data were collected from the University's information system (October 2009–January 2010). Of the total potential participants, 695 were included (13.8% excluded). Multinomial logistic regression was used to ascertain factors that predicted progression.
As age on entry increased, the likelihood of non-progression from year one became less: i.e. older students appeared to be more likely to progress than their younger counterparts (p < 0.001, likelihood ratio chi-square test). Students who lived away from the local area outside term-time were significantly less likely to progress than those whose term-time and holiday domicile were the same (p = 0.007, likelihood ratio chi-square test). Students with dependents or previous care experience seemed more likely to progress than those without, although this was not statistically significant in a multivariable regression model.
With the changing demographic profile of students, the new ‘all-graduate’ programmes need to consider student characteristics that are correlated with likelihood of progression and not just focus on those that precipitate exit.