Editorial

A shameful silence over the attrition rate for nursing students

One in four nursing students drop out of their training courses, yet the bodies responsible remain complacent, showing a shameful disregard for the future of the profession.

One in four nursing students drop out of their training courses, yet the bodies responsible remain complacent, showing a shameful disregard for the future of the profession

There is consensus that the UK is desperately short of nurses, with recruitment and retention proving troublesome. So you would think that great care would be taken to ensure that nursing students are selected carefully, then looked after during their training so they qualify successfully.

If only this were true. An investigation by Nursing Standard has found that 25.1% of the students who started training in 2013 failed to complete their courses three years later. Even allowing for a small number who ‘step off’ courses temporarily, so may return to qualify later, that is an eye-watering figure.

The findings are eerily similar to those of 2006, when the same survey found that 26.1% were dropping out.

Cavalier disregard

Yet all the bodies responsible remain staunchly complacent, given there is no sense that anyone in government or one of the proliferation of organisations that oversee nurse education is remotely bothered.

To make matters worse, we are entering into a period of uncertainty due to changes in funding that will see all nursing students in England forced to pay tuition fees and take out loans for the first time.

The cohort that qualifies in 2020 will have amassed debts that could take decades to repay, but will be lucky to earn much more than £22,000 a year.

No other profession is treated with such a cavalier disregard for its future. Those responsible should be thoroughly ashamed.

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