Student nurse attrition: A half century of research

Brett R. Merkley


This descriptive literature review examines 50 years of research related to student nurse attrition within nursing education programs.  Retention, attrition, drop-out, stop-out, and wastage are terms used over the decades to describe student nurse progress. The objective of the literature review was to identify and accept this global issue, review the evidence, and to identify potential gaps in the literature.  An extensive literature review within multiple databases rendered multidimensional interrelated factors involving: The student nurse, learning environment and nurse educator, and clinical placement; yet the issue of student attrition persists. There may be another factor to consider: Policy.  What influence does policy have on student nurse retention and attrition? This study examined current research evidence related to nursing student attrition and discusses layers of policy embedded in nursing education programs.  Nursing program progression policies and non-uniform grading policies can be factors of students’ failure to progress.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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