The juggling act: Do student nurses who care for dependants need an adapted course? An applied policy research study

Matt Kiernan, Carole Proud, Sue Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Background: In line with many countries worldwide, the Department of Health mandate to Health Education England seeks to promote the diversity of applicants by widening participation in nurse education. A number of studies have explored the experience of non-traditional students undertaking nursing courses. Objectives: This study aimed to explore and understand the experiences of student nurses undertaking their nurse education whilst caring for dependant family. Design: The study used an applied qualitative research approached based on methods developed for applied social policy research. Settings: The study was undertaken in an institution of higher education in the North East of England. Participants: The study population consisted of a convenience sample of 14 respondents, 13 female and 1 male. Ten respondents lived with partners and 3 had disabled dependants within the family. The age range of dependent children ranged from 3. months to 19. years. Methods: Data was collected through focus groups and telephone interviews using a semi-structured interview schedule. Framework analysis was used to analyse the data. Results: Three superordinate themes were identified, Altruism and Commitment, Maturity and Family and Social Mobility, that best encapsulate the characteristics that enable this group to function well and complete their nurse education. Analysis identified a highly motivated group of students who's individual accounts showed that their lives, whilst in nurse education, were a constant series of compromises and 'juggling' between the demands of the course and the demands of their families. Conclusions: This group of students do not need an adapted course, but instead wish for a realistic nursing course where expectations are managed in an honest way. Basic common sense and good management of nursing courses will help ensure that this motivated group of people achieve their goals with minimum hardship or difficulties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1085-1090
JournalNurse Education Today
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2015


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