A nursing body claims that the proportion of student nurses in Scotland who are abandoning diploma courses has reached its highest level since the early 1990s.
Official figures for 2002-03, which have just been released, put the drop-out rate at 26.4% - the same level as the previous year, which was the highest percentage since 1993.
For all students on nursing and midwifery diploma courses the "attrition rate" was 26.4%. The highest rate, at 31.3%, was in the diploma courses for children's nursing while the lowest, 23.9%, was in mental health.
Nursing body RCN Scotland expressed concerns over the figures.
The organisation's director, Theresa Fyffe, said: "It is not acceptable that over a quarter of nursing and midwifery students do not complete their course and go on to work.
"The government has promised an investment of £5m to support nursing and midwifery students throughout their training and we will be working with them, and with all those involved in education and training of nurses, to find out why attrition is so high, improve the student experience and reduce the number leaving their course."
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Why do you think so many nurses give up on their studies? Please supply your comment, name and location in the feedback box below. Your details will not be published if you so request. (Terms and conditions apply)
"I believe that many student nurses fail to complete their training, because nursing is not what they want to do. I have heard many student nurses say to me that they are not really interested in nursing as a career, however it is the only degree you can complete that pays the student a bursary. I completed my General training in the Hospital Based School of Nursing, and in 2002 completed my university training in mental health, there is no comparison,the training in the apprenticeship type
training in a hospital was far superior, There appears to be no mandatory measure to accurately evaluate the competency of newly qualified staff. Many nurses seemed to have lost site of the very reason they trained to be a nurse TO CARE FOR PATIENTS. I have witnessed the continual deterioration in nursing care and standards with regards caring for patients. There are of course many many dedicated and caring nurses. I was speaking to one such nurse who informed me that she was thinking of leaving because of poor nursing practices she sees. We would retain more nurses if we reverted back to hospital based training.This would increase competency, aid the shortage of nurses on the ward, and give a tangible environment in which the competency can be accurately measured. The patients rely on nurses to be competent, caring, show empathy and compassion and treat people with respect. To those nurses I say carry on your great work. To the many who don't, I say shame on you, you should not be in the nursing profession" - Karen Daly, Glasgow
"The amount of time spent in university is the same as the time spent in placement. I am a third year student due to qualify in September and I am on the degree program so not only will I have no job at the end of it, I will also have a student loan to pay off. In reference to the comment made about mature students, i deliberately waited until i had no young children at home so i could dedicate myself to my training. I think its very unfair to generalize certain groups like this. Mature students have a lot to offer to the profession. Back to why students are leaving simple-low moral and no jobs!" - Name and address supplied
"I am a student nurse at Nottingham University in my first year. My fellow students and I all feel let down by the amount of tutors who cannot speak English properly, our lectures are punctuated with no less than 1000 'emms', is this satisfactory? In addition to this, the amount of money we recieve per month is way below the minimum wage considering we work 37.5 hours like any other qualified nurse when on placements." - Name and address supplied
"I understand where all that drop-out is coming from. Completed a nursing course sometime back but can't find a job. So whats the point of wasting your time. At the end of the day life is so short just to waste." - Sara, London
"I am a student nurse in my third year. I think for the large part, those that drop out in the first year are those who simply realise that nursing is not the career for them. However, the number who drop out in years 2 and 3 are mostly due to poor morale. I am six months away from qualification and I know that unless I am willing to move across the country and leave all my friends, family and boyfriend I will not get a nursing job. Although I live in a major city with a number of hospitals within easy commuting distance there are no jobs for newly qualified nurses. I work 4 days a week in the hospital, spend one day a week in classes and spend the two days off I have a week catching up on assignments. If by any chance I actually have enough time to spend with friends and my boyfriend, I have little to no money to spend on actually enjoying myself. After two and-a-half years of doing this you begin to wonder if there is a point, when the qualification will not actually help you get a job at the end. It is not just in Scotland that this problem, it's occurring but also all over the UK" - J Edwards, Liverpool"
"I am a mentor of students. One of the contributing factors to the high drop out rate is the fact that too many mature students start the course at the wrong time of their lives. They sometimes have too many family commitments. I would like to see more 19-year old students recruited" - Name and address supplied
"The profession should have very clear pathways and structures to qualification, which allows for hands-on specialisation for some individuals and the academic route for others. Jobs should be available for those assessed to be competent to perform the role and bring benefits to both the patient and self and a desire to participate in improving the health of those who are ill" - Name and address supplied
"I think inflation, higher costs of living in general - petrol, basic living needs such as mortgages, food, heating not to mention the work load is much greater compared to what I had to cope with in my training (I qualified in 1989). If I were young again I certainly would not go into nursing. I do love my job but the paperwork we face is sadly weighing down the pleasures of being in a caring profession. I would give anything to just be an auxiliary so that I can be hands on at nursing" - Debbie Payjack
"With regards to midwifery in particular, in this area students are qualifying with no hope of a job locally despite widespread news coverage of the poor state of maternity services and a shortage of midwives in general. After completing a long period of intense study we are consigning these people to the scrapheap. No wonder the drop out rate is so high. Why should they bother to complete training for a profession so poorly regarded by the politicians. And why are training places still being funded when apparently their skills are not required locally i.e. no jobs available. What a drain on taxpayer's money" - Name and address supplied
"They realise that nursing is not a valued profession by the government, which is reflected, in the poor post-qualifying salary. You can train for a week to give advice and serve in a bank for the same wage! There is also an increasing awareness as students progress through their training that nursing does not have a standard professional career path as in other health related roles" - Name and address supplied
"A nursing assistant from our practice showed enormous interest in nursing, doing several OU courses prior to starting 'training proper' at the local university. She was given a placement over 50 miles from home and had to travel there three days per week throughout the winter. The lack of support she received with tutorials combined with this very long travelling with no facility to claim petrol allowance, and when she asked for somewhere nearer (we are based in a city with dozens of practices within a five mile radius) she was told it was out of the question. She has dropped out of training so we have lost a potentially very good nurse through mismanagement. Perhaps this is not an isolated case?" - Name and address supplied
"Far too much essay writing involved with nursing studies now - it should be a more practical role that is important and hands on learning with a mentor. This would stop the rate of nurses leaving. I am convinced of this" - P Sinclair, Fife
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