Graduate entry nursing education: An untapped pathway to the nursing workforce?
Although existing in the USA for many years, graduate entry programs are still in their infancy in Australia. These programs offer masters level preparation for graduates from non-nursing disciplines to enter beginning practice as registered nurses. In 2009, Monash University took its first intake of graduate entry students into a four semester accelerated program offered over 18 months. We developed a process for ongoing evaluation of students’ learning and professional development.
A cohort study of the first student groups employed questionnaires and focus groups to explore various entrant characteristics, such as demographics, previous educational and employment backgrounds, reasons for entering nursing, and why at this particular time in their lives. Finally, it sought to explore students’ initial perspectives on nursing and where they envisage the course would take them into the future. Findings indicate a vast array of professional backgrounds with students entering from such disciplines as law, science and school teaching. Already, many backgrounds become noticeable within the classroom setting, enhancing teaching and learning. In addition, the gender balance has included more males than in traditional undergraduate programs.
To date, the course has attracted a broad range of professionals and has potential to make a unique contribution to the nursing workforce. Ongoing evaluation will follow students through their journeys into graduate roles and explore the impact they have on the nursing workforce. We argue that graduate entry programs allow access to nursing for individuals who might not otherwise enter the profession and provide another means for addressing workforce shortages.
Poster presentation, ICN Quadrennial Congress, Melbourne, 2013