Issues concerning recruitment, retention and attrition of student nurses in the 1950/60s: A comparative study

Annette M Jinks, Kathleen Richardson, Chris Jones, Jennifer Kirton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To investigate student nurse recruitment and attrition in the 1950' and 1960s and undertake comparisons to modern day concerns. The study was set in one hospital in the UK. Background: In the period studied nursing was unpopular as a profession and there were difficulties surrounding recruitment. Attrition rates were high. Method: Documentary analysis of 641 training records dating 1955 to 1968 was undertaken. Attrition rates, reasons for non-completion and employment following successful completion were determined. Results: Most recruits were young, unmarried, females and had overseas addresses. The majority (n=88) had prior nursing experience. Over 69% (n=443) successfully completed their training. Attrition rates were over 30% (n=198), the main reason being academic failure. Following completion over 40% (n=183) undertook midwifery training (n=183) or secured a staff nurse post (n=153). Conclusions: Issues relating to recruitment, retention and attrition in the 1950s and 1960s put into context present day issues. Recent attrition rates from pre-registration nurse education have fallen, nevertheless some of the issues of yesteryear remain problematic. In the present study significant numbers of entrants left due to domestic and ill-health problems resonates with many modern day studies. Also failure to complete due to academic shortcomings continues to be a concern.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-647
Number of pages7
JournalNurse Education in Practice
Issue number6
Early online date22 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Historical cohort study
  • Nursing student selection and dropout


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