Students' perceptions of belonging in the School of Nursing at a regional university in Australia

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Nurse Education Today


Background: Attrition in pre-registration nursing degrees is a global issue. Students' perceptions of belonging is a factor that influences attrition. Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate students' perception of belonging to a School of Nursing, as well as their intention to complete the pre-registration Bachelor of Nursing (BN) program following implementation of the Initiatives for Retention (IR) intervention. Design: A prospective cross-sectional survey of student nurses was undertaken using an online questionnaire. Setting: A large regional university in Australia. Participants: Pre-registration nursing students. Methods: Perceptions of Belonging were evaluated using the 24-item Belonging questionnaire comprising three subscales. Data were analysed using SPSS version 25. Pearson's correlation, Student's t-tests and one way ANOVA were used to assess associations and differences in belonging scores and student demographics, study status and participation in the Initiatives for Retention (IR) intervention. Results: A total of 201 students responded to the voluntary questionnaire. The mean score for overall Belonging was 70.5 (maximum obtainable 96), mean Scores for University affiliation, University support and acceptance, and staff relations with students were 34.7, 24.1 and 11.8 respectively. Female students, those who were studying at the university for less than a year and those who participated in the IR intervention activities reported significantly higher University Belonging scores compared to their contemporaries. Logistic regression revealed that students studying the BN course for more than 3 years (OR: 0.43 95% CI 0.20–0.93, p = 0.031), and those employed (OR: 0.435, 95% CI 0.16–0.16, p = 0.022) were significant predictors of not attending the IR sessions. There were no significant differences in overall University Belonging scores based on other demographic characteristics and, study status. The majority of the students (84%) stated that they plan to continue and complete the BN program. Conclusions: Measures designed to develop student involvement may positively contribute a successful relationship between the institution and the student, increasing the students' sense of belonging and decreasing attrition among student nurses. Practice implications: Initiatives for Retention (IR) facilitate a greater sense of belonging in nursing students hence Schools of Nursing should consider embedding such strategies.

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