Graduate entry nurses’ initial perspectives on nursing: Content analysis of open-ended survey questions

Lisa McKenna, Ingrid Brooks, Rebecca Vanderheide

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background Graduate entry nursing courses offer individuals with prior degrees the opportunity to gain nursing qualifications and facilitate career change. While it is known that accelerated graduate entry courses are increasingly popular, the perceptions of nursing held by such individuals and the influence this has on those seeking to enter the profession are less clearly understood. Objective To explore graduate entry nursing students’ perceptions of nursing on entering their pre-registration course. Design A descriptive design utilising cross-section survey with two open-ended questions: What do you believe the role of the nurse is? What things have influenced that view? were asked. Demographic data were analysed using descriptive frequencies, while the two open-ended questions were analysed using summative content analysis. Setting One university-based postgraduate graduate entry nursing course in Australia Participants Eight cohorts (n = 286) commencing students with prior degrees other than nursing. Results The course attracts students from diverse backgrounds. Exposure to nursing and nurses, either as a consumer of health care or other health care role, plays a primary role in influencing career change. However, similar to those found with school leavers, there remains much misinformation about nurses’ roles for students in these courses. Most identify the role of caring in nursing. For some, media representations are the only information sources. Discussion Graduate entry courses offer opportunities to attract new nurses and contribute to addressing workforce shortages. However, there is still a lack of knowledge of nursing roles among students on entry. More work is required by the profession to ensure nursing is accurately and positively represented to the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-26
Number of pages5
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Content analysis
  • Graduate entry
  • Media
  • Nursing roles
  • Open-ended questions
  • Perceptions

Cite this