Nursing students' changing orientation and attitudes towards nursing during education: A two year longitudinal study

Yvonne ten Hoeve*, Stynke Castelein, Wiebren S. Jansen, Gerard J. Jansen, Petrie F. Roodbol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Previous studies have shown that nursing students' perceptions of nursing change over time. Little research has been undertaken in the Netherlands of students entering nursing programmes and of how they progress.

Objectives: The aims of this study were to explore whether nursing students' orientation and attitudes towards nursing changed over time, when these changes occurred, and what factors influenced the changes. We also aimed to identify the factors which prompted them to consider leaving their programmes, and what factors affected their motivation to stay.

Design: The study used a longitudinal quantitative design.

Participants: Questionnaires were administered to all students enrolled in a Bachelor's of Nursing programme at four nursing universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands (n = 1414). The data for this study were collected during the first two years of the programme, from September 2011 to June 2013. A total of 123 respondents completed the survey each year and this group was used to examine changes over time.

Methods: At four time intervals respondents completed a survey consisting of 1) the Nursing Orientation Tool, 2) the Nursing Attitude Questionnaire and 3) background characteristics. Non-parametric tests were used to explore changes in factor scores over time.

Results: The results showed an improvement in the students' orientation and attitudes towards knowledge, skills and the professional roles of nurses, while empathic behaviour decreased over time. Although the changes showed non-linear patterns over time, the results showed clear effects between the different time points. The reasons for attrition (24%) proved to be related both to problems with the educational programme and to personal problems. An important motivator for students to stay in the course was their passionate desire to become nurses, suggesting that the positive aspects of a nursing career dominated the problems they encountered.

Conclusions: Tutors and mentors should pay more attention to the individual perceptions and problems of first and second-year students, both in the classroom and during clinical placements. Knowledge of the students' perceptions from the very beginning could be vital to study success. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalNurse education today
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2017


  • Attitude
  • Attrition
  • Changes
  • Nursing students
  • Orientation
  • STAY

Cite this