Student nurses' perceptions of the nursing profession at a higher institution of learning

10 Oct 2019

Nurses are at the forefront in the provision of primary health care services to the members of community. South Africa is regarded as one of the countries that experience high attrition rate of nurses. Some of the reasons behind the high attrition rate of nurses relate to the demanding nature of the occupation. It is however worth mentioning that regardless of the perceived demanding nature of the nursing profession, institutions continue to admit first year student nurses every year. The main objective of this study was to explore student nurses' perceptions of the nursing profession, which could share light to possible motives behind deciding to choose a career in nursing. A quantitative research design was adopted in this research and Microsoft Excel was used to analyse the results. A convenient sample of 65 student nurses enrolled at a selected higher education institution was drawn, and a questionnaire developed by Chauke, Van Der Wal and Botha (2015) was used to collect data from the sample. 22 items of the questionnaire were used to measure 4 sub-scales (the nature of nursing, perceptions about nurses, gender in nursing and working conditions) on a 4-point Likert scale. Descriptive statistics was used to analyse the collected data. The results of this study revealed that majority of the nursing students perceived the nursing profession in a positive way (e.g. nursing was perceived a prestigious career, which is based on helping others (75%). The student nurses also perceived nurses positively (e.g. nurses were perceived as caring people (70%). They also perceived no difference between job performance of male nurses and that od female nurses (e.g. males are as good nurses as females (60%). However, the nursing students perceived that nurses work under unfavourably conditions (e.g. nurses work in a safe place (5%).