Factors Influencing Retention Rates for RN to BSN Students

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Audrey C. Tolouian, EdD, MSN
School of Nursing, RN to BSN Program, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA
Melissa Wholeben, PhD
School of Nursing, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA

Purpose:  To coordinate existing data with data obtained from our study results to form a recommendation for change in areas of recruitment, maintenance and retention of students

Methods:  A descriptive qualitative study using survey sent out via Qualtrics to online RN to BSN students who were graduating with less than 10 semester hours left to their degree completion.


I Conscientiousnesshas been consistently associated with academic success, (Conrad, 2006, Furnham, et al 2003).

Openness to Experiencehas also shown a positive relationship with post-secondary success (Rothstien, et al 1994). This trait has also been shown to be a factor in intelligence measures.

Extraversionhas shown little if any factor toward academic success in the literature.

Neuroticism was found to be a negative factor in the study by (Furman and Chamorro-Premuzie (2003), showing possible negative effects of anxiety and stress.

Agreeablenesshas been shown in multiple studies that scientifically it has shown both positive and negative relationships toward post-secondary performance.


Career enhancement is ranked number one (1) for students in this study. This factor clearly indicates that opportunities for the nursing program to use this as a motivator and retention factor abound. Simple items like positive notes to key persons at the students place of employment (with the students approval) that may be placed in the students personnel file: notice of enrollment in the program; enthusiasm toward personal growth and study; health related projects worked on by the student; courses completed; significant achievement(s) by the student; progress toward completion of the program.

Creating and ‘Advisory Council’ of local employer CEO’s and/or CNO’s to the on-line nursing program to bring greater awareness of the program and opportunities to students, as well as possible research opportunities for faculty.

Family involvement is a key factor in student retention. Some options to enhance this factor are; including key family members when possible in a portion of the interview process, to reinforce their importance and the importance of ‘time and space’ for the student and brief notes from faculty members or School Administration to the key family member(s) about the students’ positive progress in the program.

Further research into the type of gamer personality will greatly assist in the understanding of the type student that will most readily adapt to on-line course work for an RN program.