Academic Factors That Contribute to Nursing Students' Persistence: Pre-Program Support

Sunday, 30 July 2017: 2:30 PM

Ceil Flores, PhD
College of Nursing, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX, USA


In the first decade of the 21st century, Texas experienced a 20.6% increase in population growth (Texas State Data Center, 2012). If the projections for 2020 are correct, another three to eight million people will reside in Texas, straining the infrastructure of the state and having an impact on the need for nurses and healthcare providers. Nationally, the need for registered nurses (RNs) is expected to grow by more than 500,000 (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2014)

While the need to educate RNs is apparent, the persistence rates for nursing students in enrolled pre-licensure RNs programs have remained relatively constant at 69% from 2007 to 2011 (TCNWS, 2012). Many contributing factors have been identified as predictors to program success (Jeffreys, 2012; Shelton 2012). Few researchers have focused solely on academic factors that impact nursing student persistence (NSP). The purpose of this study was to identify academic factors associated with support provided prior to nursing school admission and NSP


Descriptive correlational. The 14-item Academic Factors that Impact Nursing Student persistence survey was emailed through a Qualtrics link to 93 deans and program directors of Texas RN programs. Inclusion criteria included completing nursing school within teh Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board persistence guidelines. Pre-licensure student characteristics were described adn odds ratios were calculated to determine the assocication between academic support and pre-licensure NSP.


39 deans/directors participated (41.9% response rate) with 33% completion rate (n=31). Positive associations were found when introductory courses were taught: Students were 2.9 times more likely to persist (OR=2.9; 90% CI: 2.79 -3.01) when math skills were taught and 2.54 times more likely to persist (OR= 2.54; 90% CI: 2.46, 2.63) when study skills were taught. When academic advisors were available to assist students, students were 2.3 times more likely to persist (OR= 2.31; 90% CI: 2.36-2.36).


Pre-program support was associated with NSP. Of the five pre-program support items, four were associated with NSP. When students had access to academic advisors and were provided with introductory courses that taught math skills, study skills, and critical thinking skills, they were more likely to persist and graduate at the 85% benchmark. Identifying factors that promote NSP, then providing students with these resources may increase the number of registered nurses.