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J Adv Nurs. 2010 Feb;66(2):404-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.05147.x.

Career motivation in nursing students and the perceived influence of significant others.

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Queen's University Belfast, School of Nursing and Midwifery Research Unit, Northern Ireland, UK.



This paper is a report of a study investigating the motivation of nursing students, their reasons for entering nursing and the perceived influence of others in their decision-making.


There is an abundance of research into why students drop out of nursing education, but less well-studied is their motivation for entering it in the first place. In addition, little is known about the role of significant others in their decisions.


The participants were a convenience sample of 68 undergraduate nursing students in the second year of their programme. They provided answers to essay topics and the data were analysed using the principles of grounded theory. The data were collected in 2007.


Whilst altruism was a major theme in the essays, the opportunities nursing presented were also deemed influential. Personal/self development was viewed as equally important as the desire to care. Family members in the healthcare profession were perceived to be great sources of both emotional and instrumental support.


The diversity within nursing and the reported opportunities that nursing presents are important motivators for nursing students, and recruitment campaigns should aim to make these more explicit. There is a need for more qualitative research into indicators of successful nursing students if we are to address not only student dropout, but also to recruit those most likely to complete their education and remain in the nursing profession.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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