First Advisor

Joseph F. Jones

Term of Graduation

Spring 1996

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Nursing students -- Attitudes, Nursing -- Practice



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, vi, 106 pages)


This thesis investigates the following factors concerning student nurses: (1) demographic background and life experiences; (2) motivations to enter and commitment to nursing school; (3) students' conceptions of the role of a nurse; (4) comparison of students' expectations with their ideals and with the realities of nursing.

A questionnaire was administered to first year nursing students at three institutions; a four-year baccalaureate degree program and two community college associate degree programs. The two types of institutions were chosen to allow comparison between students on two different career tracks.

The findings indicate that contemporary student nurses are older than typical college students, have had a significant number of prior occupational experiences, and in contrast to the 1960's and earlier, are not exclusively female. They were most strongly motivated to be nurses by the desire to help others and conceive of the role of a nurse as challenging, rewarding, and relatively professional. In general, these students had a good understanding of the role of the average nurse, but they would construct the ideal nursing environment somewhat differently than the actual nursing environment.

These findings relate to career exploration and motivational processes associated with occupational training. It can be inferred from survey data that initiates to training programs often are quite aware of what the discipline demands. In many cases they have sought out others who are working in the field. These data also reflect the increasing occupational mobility of American society whereby individuals change careers once or more during their lifetimes.


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