Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance in Nursing

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Indra Hershorin, PhD, RN, CNE
College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Barry University, Miami Shores, FL, USA

Attrition of nursing students has been described as the “Achilles heel of the nursing world” (Buchan, 2016). The Affordable Care Act and as the increasing number of aging and diverse individuals in society increases, access to the health care will expand and the need for more competent and diverse nurse graduates will increase. An adequate number of nursing graduates will be imperative to meet societal demands, however this is complicated by high nursing student attrition rates (Harris, Rosenberg, & O’Rourke, 2014). Newton and More (2009) reported attrition rates of 50% for students enrolled in baccalaureate nursing programs and 47% for students enrolled in associate degree nursing programs. High attrition rates not only have negative impacts on students and nursing programs but are also a potential loss to the nursing workforce and community.

A literature review was conducted to determine extant information related to attrition rates, retention and strategies to increase student success. The review of the literature found that measurement and analysis of progression and graduation rates to be a well-established activity in nursing programs. Horkey (2015) reported that there was a lack of consistency in admission requirements between institutions. Most nursing schools used a combination of quantitative academic factors such as grade point averages (GPA), pre-requisite course grades, and standardized admission examination scores. Limited inclusion and evaluation of qualitative factors for admission into nursing schools has been conducted. Qualitative factors included the use of admission essays, admission interviews, academic self-confidence, and personality indicators rates. The literature review indicates that in a culture of standardized testing with an exclusive focus on ability and potential nursing educators can easily become distracted from the importance of other variables that contributes to success. One such variable is grit.

Duckworth (2016) describes grit as a combination of passion and perseverance. Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course. The importance of intellectual talent to achievement in all professional domains is well established, but less is known about other individual differences that predict success (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, and Kelley, 2007).

Horkey (2015) suggested that if nursing programs admit students that embrace, embody, and live the art of nursing, attrition may decrease benefiting the profession of nursing and the patients’ nurses serve. One potential solution is to identify and address factors that impact student success. Nursing programs should determine if students have what it takes to succeed in nursing. Do nursing students have grit and is grit a predictor of success in nursing? To answer these questions a descriptive, cross-sectional, study will be conducted with undergraduate nursing students from one university in South Florida. The 8-item grit scale developed by Duckworth (2016) will be used to measure the concept of grit. The grit scale measures trait-level perseverance and passion for long-term goal.