Adult RN-to-BSN Nursing Students Persisting Toward Degree Completion

Tuesday, 31 October 2017: 9:00 AM

Margaret Callan Delaney, EdD, MS, BSN
Department of Nursing and Health, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL, USA

Student persistence is a substantial concern to many postsecondary institutions. Colleges and universities across the United States are paying close attention to retention rate data and other outcome measures centered on the issue. One driving force may be the U. S. Department of Education’s proposed College Rating and Pay for Performance Plan that could, at some point, attach financial aid reimbursement to a college performance rating system. This proposed plan would hold institutions more accountable for student progress towards degree completion. Premature student departure is especially distressing for nursing programs that are under pressure to supply and replenish the nation's nursing workforce, which is projected to need an additional one million nurses by 2020. Therefore, supporting nursing students’ progression is an essential ingredient required to aid workforce capacity and to refill the nursing pipeline to meet the growing demand for health care. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate the experiences of adult students who overcame challenges commonly found in this student population and were able to graduate from a registered nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) completion program at a Midwestern, private, faith-based institution. Aspects were explored that surrounded RN to BSN student retention at this facility and the components that helped these students reach completion. This examination also focused on the external factors affecting these participants and the particular program and institutional components that contributed to their successful completion. The findings of this qualitative case study produced six major themes and 41 subthemes. The main themes uncovered in the case study are: Institutional and Program Fit, Role of Current Professional Climate and Decision to Pursue BSN, Institutional Support Systems and the Role of Critical Bonds, Critical Bonds Formed Among Peers, Family Support and the Role of the Critical Insider, and the Personal Characteristics that Contribute to the Students’ Ability to Complete. The findings of this study add to the limited RN to BSN nursing retention literature and help illustrate why this student subpopulation persists to degree completion rather than depart an institution. Having a more holistic understanding of the concepts surrounding student persistence further allows nurse researchers and educators to place themselves in a strategic position to make a greater impact on improving nursing student retention at large.