Sadness, socialisation and shifted perceptions: school pupils’ stories of a pre-nursing scholarship


Beattie M, Smith A & Kyle RG (2014) Sadness, socialisation and shifted perceptions: school pupils’ stories of a pre-nursing scholarship. Nurse Education Today, 34 (6), pp. 894-898.

Background: Providing opportunities for aspirant nurses to obtain pre-nursing experience features prominently in the UK Government's response to The Francis Inquiry. Evidence from the USA suggests that pre-nursing experiences, such as summer camps, have the potential to contribute to effective nurse recruitment, selection and retention strategies. However, few similar pre-nursing experiences exist in the UK, and none have been evaluated. This paper reports the experiences of participation in a pilot pre-nursing scholarship among secondary school pupils in Scotland. Objectives: To explore pupils' experiences of a pre-nursing scholarship to inform future design and delivery of similar programmes in the UK and internationally. Design: Qualitative focus group study. Settings: Two university campuses in Scotland. Participants: Twenty-two secondary school students (all female, aged 15-18 years). Methods: Two focus groups were facilitated through the use of ‘anecdote circles' to elicit pupils' stories of their scholarship experience. Anecdote circles allowed each pupil to share their story in turn and then collectively assemble, figuratively and physically through interlocking written cards, shared stories of the scholarship. Discussions were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed thematically. Results: Three stories emerged: 1) sadness; 2) socialisation; and, 3) shifted perceptions. Sad stories were transformative affirming the pupils' desire to become a nurse. Stories of socialisation revealed how demonstrating practical skills affirmed the pupils' ability and suitability to nurse. Perceptions of the life and work of a (student) nurse, their future career, and the lives of older adults, shifted through the scholarship, especially during practice learning experience. Conclusions: Storytelling revealed how a pre-nursing scholarship helped secondary school pupils to decide whether to pursue a nursing career by providing an opportunity to explore their ability, suitability and desire for nursing. The practice learning experience emerged as an important element of this decision-making process and should be integrated into similar pre-nursing experiences.

Pre-nursing experience; Scholarship; Storytelling; Nurse recruitment; Practice learning; Clinical placement; Focus groups

Nurse Education Today: Volume 34, Issue 6

FundersNHS Education for Scotland
Publication date30/06/2014
Date accepted by journal21/01/2014