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Pre-registration nursing students' perceptions of a district nursing career: a qualitative descriptive study

02 February 2024
Volume 29 · Issue 2


District nursing vacancies are recognised as high in comparison to many other nursing specialities. The role is often considered as an option for nurses after a period of registration as a nurse, which may be informed by multiple factors. The objectives of the study were to explore barriers to district nurse employment from the perspective of undergraduate nurses. A descriptive qualitative design was employed using focus groups as the method of data collection in accordance with study approval reference no: 21/NAH/006, 30/03/23. Participants were recruited from the current undergraduate nursing programme (n=60). Thematic analysis was chosen as a flexible method of qualitative data analysis. The study produced themes relating to role ambiguity, personal preferences, educational opportunities and recruitment and employer engagement. The experiences provided an insight into the barriers to recruitment of student nurses into district nursing on qualification. Increased engagement from community nurse providers is required to inform the role and incentivise entering this career option. Educational strategies that support community career pathways are required to ensure a balanced view of nursing roles among undergraduates.

The district nurse has often been described as central to the care of patients in the community, delivering high quality, holistic care to meet the needs of an ever-ageing population with complex health needs (Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI), 2015a,b; NHS England, 2019a). Recognising the burden on community services over the years led to NHS England committing to invest in primary medical and community health services and spend more than £4.5 billion on services within 5 years (NHS England, 2019b). It has been acknowledged that despite best efforts, district nursing services face staffing challenges in the form of recruitment and retention, which compromise policy objectives and threaten the delivery of safe care (QNI, 2016; Drennan et al, 2018).

This paper presents the qualitative ndings from a study that explored students' perceptions and barriers to joining employment at a partner NHS community trust.

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