Recruitment, Selection and Retention of Nursing and Midwifery Students in Scottish Universities

Sheila Rodgers, Rosie Stenhouse, May McCreaddie, P Small

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background; High attrition rates from pre-registration nursing and midwifery programmes have been reported in both the UK and in other countries.

Objectives; A benchmarking study was commissioned by the Scottish Government to identify best practice in recruitment, selection and retention across Scottish Universities providing pre-registration programmes.

Design; A survey of all universities providing pre-registration programmes in Scotland was conducted. Semi-structured face to face or telephone interviews were conducted with key personnel in each university. Documentary evidence was collected to supplement interview data and evidence recruitment, selection and retention practices.

Settings: All universities in Scotland providing pre-registration nursing and/or midwifery programmes.

Participants; All 10 identified universities agreed to take part and a total of 18 interviews were conducted.

Methods; Semi-structured face to face and telephone interviews were conducted. Relevant documentary evidence was collected. All data were subject to thematic analysis.

Findings; Universities are predominantly concerned with recruiting to the institution and not to the professions.

Interviews are widely used, and a requirement of the NMC standards for education. However, there is no evidence base within the literature that they have predictive validity despite creating scales and scoring systems which remain unvalidated in the main.

Whilst the study identified initiatives focused on addressing attrition/retention, most had not been evaluated often due to the multi-factorial nature of attrition/retention and difficulties with measurement.

Conclusions; Recruitment selection and retention initiatives were generally poorly evaluated. Evidence from existing studies to support practices was mostly weakly supportive or absent. The benchmarking exercise highlights the need for a coordinated approach, supporting the development of a robust evidence base through the evaluation of local initiatives, and piloting and evaluation of new strategies. Evaluation strategies must take account of the local context to facilitate transferability of findings across different settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1301–1310
JournalNurse Education Today
Issue number11
Early online date8 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Recruitment
  • Selection
  • Retention
  • Attrition
  • Nursing
  • Midwifery
  • Pre-registration education
  • Best practice


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