Learning Experiences of First Year Graduate Entry Nursing Students in New Zealand and Australia: A Qualitative Case Study
Background Graduate entry nursing programmes provide students with an accelerated pathway to becoming a registered nurse. Motivations for study, together with commonly shared characteristics of students enrolling in such programmes is becoming well documented, however, their experiences of studying for a professional qualification in this manner is less understood. As a means of maintaining the relevance of these fast-tracked programmes in the future, an understanding of graduate entry nursing students’ experiences of academic teaching and clinical placements is imperative.
Objective To explore the academic and clinical experiences of students enrolled in the first year of graduate entry nursing programmes in New Zealand and Australia.
Methods A qualitative case study approach was taken. Here we report the experiences of nine students enrolled in their first year of a two-year graduate entry nursing programme during 2020. Semi-structured interviews were used for data collection and analysed using Braun and Clarke’s thematic analysis.
Findings Three overarching themes were developed—affirmation, reflections on expectations and clinical experiences.
Conclusion This study highlights the experiences of first year graduate entry nursing students, with many experiencing affirmation that their altruistic career visions came to fruition. The findings indicate that these graduate-entry nursing students interviewed for this study tended to be flexible and adaptable in their approach to study as a means of meeting the challenges of the programme, all of which are key characteristics for a registered nurse; with personal growth and the development of the self, providing preparation for their second year of study.