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First year pre-registration nursing student perceptions of community nursing roles: a thematic analysis

02 April 2022
15 min read
Volume 27 · Issue 4


Nursing is the largest qualified professional workforce in the UK, with TV programmes, films, books and other media sources frequently informing the general public's views of nursing roles. This study examines first year pre-registration nursing students' perceptions of community nursing roles, using a qualitative design and questionnaire. Participants included pre-registration nursing students from a university in north west England: a mean of 240 and 68.5% across all questions. Of those invited, 267 were adult nursing students; 53 were mental health nursing students; and 30 were child nursing students. Data were collected using an online questionnaire across two groups and analysed thematically. Four questions were considered relating to students' knowledge of community nursing. Results uncovered knowledge gaps, and community roles were perceived to be less dynamic than secondary care roles, correlating to clinical tasks and popularised media sources. Results provided insight into student nurse perceptions, offering an understanding from which to construct a more inclusive, community-focused nursing curriculum.

Nursing is often considered a rewarding career, with many opportunities to develop personally and professionally (Seitovirta et al, 2018). Perceptions of nursing roles are frequently informed by peripheral sources, which may create an unrealistic image of the contemporary nurse for students embarking upon their professional journey (Glerean et al, 2017). Pre-registration nursing education can provide an opportunity to develop role modelling, generate a sense of belonging to a profession, and may act as a critical foundation for both future academic and clinical experiences (Hill, 2020). Student nurses are the future of the nursing workforce and, as such, must be prepared for complex roles, which may manifest in a different way in reality than portrayed by external media (Slattery et al, 2016).

This study examines the perceptions of a cohort of pre-registration student nurses relating to community nursing roles, to establish their understanding of the diverse nursing roles to be found in the community setting. Students' underpinning knowledge is instrumental in managing personal expectations; their consideration of future placement learning opportunities; and in preparing them for their role in a professional workforce over the course of undergraduate education. These research findings may help to inform development of the current curricula to incorporate community care as an attractive future career option and enhance the student experience for pre-registration nurses.

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