Exploring Student Attrition in an Associate Degree Nursing Program: A Phenomenological Design

Exploring Student Attrition in an Associate Degree Nursing Program: A Phenomenological Design

Author: 
Sonya Franklin
Program of study: 
Ed.D./CI
Abstract: 
The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore lived experiences and identified personal internal and external factors that influence associate degree nursing students in a community college to withdraw from their nursing course(s) in the southeast region of Tennessee. The central phenomenon explored was the precipitating events or influences that led to the withdrawal from the course(s). The population for this study was Associate Degree nursing students, aged 18 years old or older, enrolled in the nursing program in a community college in Southeast Tennessee. A form of nonprobability sampling, purposive, and homogenous sampling was used to obtain participants for the study. Participant data were collected via semi-structured, open-ended, face-to-face interviews. QSR NVivo 10 ® software was used for the preliminary coding of statements, phrases and words. Using Van Manen’s selective highlighting approach the transcripts were reviewed and nodes created. Many of the themes identified in the study are representative of the findings in the literature reviewed. Additional causative factors (class load, work, licenses and certifications, withdrawal impact, learning preferences, and positive/negative learning experiences) based on participant responses, not included the literature, may provide insight and understanding of nursing student attrition. This study provided the lived experience of eight associate degree nursing students and their perceptions on the causes surrounding their withdrawal from their nursing course. This study contributes to the limited existing literature on the issue of attrition in associate degree nursing programs assisting state, national, and global nursing programs in seeking solutions to a persistent problem.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this dissertation and my entire doctoral journey to my husband for his unfailing love and support throughout what has been a lifelong educational journey. You have and always will be my soul mate and best friend. If I had it to do all over again, I would still want you beside me for each and every step. You have been my biggest fan and greatest supporter-Thank you for always believing in me, even when I did not. I dedicate the findings of this dissertation to all nursing students whom I have been honored to have known in my role as a nurse educator. I have a vision of a nursing program that someday better supports those who are juggling life, families, and the pursuit of a rewarding career in the nursing profession. Remember, anything worth having never comes easy!
Acknowledgements: 
I acknowledge first and foremost my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His ever present help as I have approached each step of this doctoral journey. Without His help my completion would never have been possible. Next, I would like to thank my dissertation chair, Dr. Ruth Grendell, for all of your care and support. Your supportive spirit and encouraging words helped to give me the necessary nudges that were needed during the difficult waiting periods. Thank you simply doesn’t cover it. To my dissertation committee members, Dr. Sarah Brown and Dr. Pearl Smith, your feedback and encouragement were valuable affirmations that assisted me in this journey. I will be forever grateful and thankful that you accepted taking on this task with me. To my family whose support and love have made it possible for me to reach for the moon. You will never know how often you fueled my desire to be more than I ever thought I could be for each of you. I only pray that each of you will reach your complete potential with the life you have been blessed with!