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A quarter of student nurses quit before graduating, says new study

One in four student nurses dropped out of university prior to graduating in 2017, according to new statistics

One in four student nurses dropped out of university prior to graduating in 2017, according to new statistics.

A total of 4,027 out of 16,544 students either left their degrees or suspended study at 55 universities who responded to the study organised by research charity, the Health Foundation, and Nursing Standard – creating an attrition rate of 24%.

‘While the attrition rate has remained fairly constant over the last decade, its impact is becoming more severe bearing in mind the overall shortage of nurses, vacancies in nursing posts and rising demand pressures on the NHS,’ said Ben Gershlick, senior economics analyst at the Health Foundation.

‘The need for nurses trained in the UK has also increased as we have seen a recent fall in the inflow of nurses coming from abroad.’

The attrition rate in 2006 was reportedly 24.8%, meaning that efforts made to reduce drop-out on university courses have not been successful as this figure remains consistent.

According to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the main reasons for leaving their courses are bad experiences on placements, financial difficulties, and academic pressures.

Given the current staffing shortage, these new figures highlight the need for more incentives for student nurses to sign up and stay in their degrees – since the student bursary was removed since 2017, university nursing course applications have dropped by a third.

‘These figures are a stark and timely reminder of the need to properly support student nurses,’ said Anne Corrin, head of professional learning and development at the RCN.

‘It is vital that student nurses have the opportunity to learn in placements – where they spend half their time – and are not relied upon to make up shortfalls in staffing numbers. They must not be exploited as cheap labour. Falling student numbers and rising vacancies in our health and social care services mean addressing these issues has never been more urgent.’