How to recruit and retain the next generation of nurses in the UK: young people's views on the image of nursing.

Norman, Kay (2015). How to recruit and retain the next generation of nurses in the UK: young people's views on the image of nursing. In: Nursing Abstracts, Athens Institute for Education and Research, p. 111.



Nursing in the UK has been shaped over the past century to promote a respected, worthwhile and aspirational career. Despite this ideal, the number of nurses and midwives working within the NHS has fallen by almost 6000 in two years (Health and Social Care Information Centre 2012) and furthermore, the profession has not addressed the predicted shortfall of school leavers in planning its recruitment strategies (RCN 2010).

Against the backdrop of a current nursing recruitment crisis and the continuing ramifications of the Francis report (2013) highlighting poor standards of care, this paper explores how the next generation of potential nurses view the profession and if nursing is something that they would consider as a career option.

The findings are presented from a study completed in 2013 which involved qualitative in-depth interviews with 40 young people in the West Midlands region of the UK.

Findings suggest that nursing continues to be viewed in stereotypical terms as a vocation, lacking status as a profession and unappealing as a career. Although nursing appears to be respected, evidenced in expressions of ‘moral worth’ in society, it is not perceived to be seen as producing the expected outcomes of financial reward, status and social credibility that young people are striving for. There was an apparent lack of knowledge and understanding of nursing roles, educational requirements and opportunities available within nursing, with few current terms of reference that could be drawn upon. Credible information was unavailable within the formal career advice sources that were accessible to these young people, with parents and family seen to have the biggest influence on perceptions of careers. Pupils who identified nurses within their families portrayed a negative image of nursing to participants which affected their decision not to consider nursing as a potential career option.

Conclusions suggest that collaborative strategies need to be formulated urgently to promote a realistic and informative image of the nursing profession to the next generation of potential nurses.

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