NHS cadet schemes: student experience, commitment, job satisfaction and job stress

Draper, Janet; Halliday, Debbie; Jowett, Sandra; Norman, Ian; Watson, Roger; Wilson-Bennett, Jenifer; Normand, Charles and O'Brien, Kieran (2004). NHS cadet schemes: student experience, commitment, job satisfaction and job stress. Nurse Education Today, 24(3) pp. 219–228.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2003.12.008


In the context of various policy initiatives concerning widening access to and strengthening recruitment and retention in the health services, cadet schemes – predominantly in nursing – have proliferated over the last few years. As part of a larger national evaluation of National Health Service (NHS) cadet schemes, this paper reports on a survey of senior cadet students across 62 cadet schemes in England and examines their experience of being a cadet on such a scheme. Cadets forming the most senior cohort from each of the 62 schemes (n=596) were surveyed using a questionnaire. The questionnaire included self-rated measures of job satisfaction, job stress and commitment. A 5% sample of these cadets participated in follow-up telephone interviews. Cadets reported high satisfaction with their courses. One of the most positive aspects of the schemes was the first-hand experience of working in the NHS they provided, whilst also giving cadets the opportunity to gain recognisable skills and qualifications. Cadets scored highly on the job satisfaction scale and, on the job stress scale, showed low stress overall. A significant positive correlation was found between satisfaction and stress, indicating that the cadets who are most satisfied are also more highly stressed. A negative correlation was found between stress and the dimensions of commitment indicating that those cadets who are stressed are less committed to the NHS. A negative correlation was also found between satisfaction and the dimensions of commitment, suggesting that commitment to the NHS is not contingent on high satisfaction. The implications for the findings of the survey are discussed.

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