The path to nurse registration
The aim of this study was to identify the factors promoting or impeding pre-registration degree level education at the first School of Nursing offering transfer from diploma to degree programmes. A quantitative approach was used to collect data from student nurses using a questionnaire. This included an attitude towards obtaining a degree scale developed using psychometric tests to maximise reliability and validity. The remainder of the questionnaire consisted of checklists of the factors influencing the decision to accept transfer or not and demographic information. In the main study the questionnaire was distributed to 113 third year adult branch student nurses. The response rate was 93%. The 105 participants were typical of student nurses, i. e. the majority were female, mature and worked part-time. Attitudes towards obtaining a degree were generally positive. The majority of students believed obtaining a degree will help nurses develop their career and increase professional status. However, the majority disagreed that obtaining a degree is essential to be a good nurse, will make nurses better at their jobs and will improve the patient care provided by nurses. Only 25% believed obtaining a degree ought to be essential for all student nurses. Twenty nine students did not accept transfer to the degree. Of these 79% reported this was due to the combined pressures of academic workload, family and work. None of these participants believed that obtaining a degree will make nurses better at theirJobs. A theory-practice divide seemed to exist, whereby many of the participants did not relate the increased degree knowledge with clinical practice. Based on this study's limited evidence, achieving an all graduate profession at the point of registration appears difficult because of students' limited abilities and motivation to obtain a degree. Possible solutions include to narrow the entrance gates or to achieve an all graduate profession after registration by implementing short-term learning contracts for newly qualified nurses. Understanding which types of students accept or decline transfer could be better understood by improved information systems.