Title : Improving retention rates of associate degree nursing students using an academic support orientation program
Retention rates of students continue to be an issue in higher education, especially the retention rates of students in nursing academic programs. As the nursing shortage continues to increase, the need to replenish the supply of nurses places increased demands on nursing academic programs to increase their number of graduates. However, nurse educators have found that increasing the number of graduate nurses is not as easy as increasing enrollment numbers, offering multiple start dates, and offering accelerated programs. Offering these pathways will not offset the nursing shortage if the nursing academic program cannot retain the students entering them.
This quality improvement project aimed to implement an orientation program for Associate Degree Nursing students to increase student retention.
This quality improvement project used a pre/post design. The pre-intervention group included 44 students, and the post-intervention group was 43. The project was conducted at a community college in an Associates Degree Nursing program. Following Jeffreys’ Nursing Universal Retention and Success model, an orientation program for Associate Degree Nursing students was developed to improve retention rates. Retention rates were compared between nursing students who completed an academic support new student orientation program and students who did not complete an orientation program. The orientation program included sessions believed to help support students as they prepared to enter their first semester of nursing school, including curriculum, the student handbook, the learning management system, ATI, student support services, utilizing faculty success coaches, peer support, and developing study skills.
The project results show that more students were retained in the ADN program after attending the orientation program (post-intervention) n = 28 (65%) compared to students who did not attend the academic support orientation program (pre-intervention) n = 19 (43%). Using an adapted version of Jeffreys’ Enrichment Program Satisfaction Survey, qualitative and quantitative data were collected to evaluate the student perceptions of the satisfaction and helpfulness of sessions presented at the orientation. Overall, students strongly agree that the sessions offered were helpful as they prepared to start their first semester of nursing school. Student narrative responses provided positive insight into the student’s thoughts and feelings regarding the program.
Based on the results, an academic support orientation program can be implemented to improve the retention rates of first-semester nursing students.
Audience Take Away Notes:
- Learners will be able to identify the importance of improving nursing student retention rates.
- Learners will be able to identify student academic and non-academic barriers for retention.
- Learners will be able to identify evidenced-based strategies for improving student retention rates in nursing academic programs.