Operating department practitioner education: a retrospective audit of factors associated with attrition

J. Hinton, A. Jinks

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

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: In common with other pre-qualifying health professional programmes, reducing student attrition presents a challenge for operating department practitioner educators. Factors that impact on student completion rates are complex with changes in personal circumstances and psychosocial stressors being well cited reasons why students decide to leave. However, whilst thee is a growing body of literature about student attrition and healthcare programmes generally, there is little that is directly focused on operating department practitioner education. Aims: The aim of this audit was to examine attrition rates among students undertaking operating department practitioner training and to identify specific characteristics collection sheet, student records (n=158) from three consecutive cohorts (A,B and C) of an operating department practitioner programme at two different sites were examined. The personal characteristics of these students wee also examined along with their academic qualifications and the reasons given for their discontinuation. Results: The audit identified an attrition rate of 22.8% (n=36). Differences were noted relating to individual cohort groups and the different sites where the programme is delivered. The majority 56.25% (n=18) of those that left did so in the first year of the programme. In 41% of cases (n=13) there was no documented reason why the students had left. Nevertheless, a number of students had personal, medical or academic reasons for withdrawing from the programme. Conclusion: Attrition from any programme of study may have emotional and social consequences for the individuals concerned. Attrition from operating department practitioner programmes also gives rise to financial implications for higher education institutes (HEIs). Reducing attrition rates is therefore in the interests of all concerned. This audit identified that there are a number of reasons why operating department student practitioners leave their programme and it emphasises the complex nature of researching the nature of attrition in higher education. Nevertheless, the discussion has identified some preliminary indicators for strategies to reduce attrition. Recommendations: Th audit signals that educators must record the reasons why individuals leave so that student support strategies can be effectively developed and wherever possible initiated, in order to maximise the potential each student has to achieve overall successful completion of their programme.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)43-49
    JournalJournal of Advanced Perioperative Care
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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