As many Departments of Nursing within universities consider raising their academic entry requirements in an attempt to attract a more high academic achieving entrant and also endeavour to attract more school leavers one of the fundamental questions that needs to be answered is – are high academic achieving school pupils really interested in pursuing a career in nursing? The aim of this paper is to report on the findings from paradigmatic case interviews of high academic achieving school pupils who at one stage in their career choice process had considered nursing as a possible career choice but had ultimately disregarded nursing and had decided to pursue medicine or another health care profession. The study reports interview data from a sub-sample of (n = 20) high academic achieving 5th and 6th year school pupils who participated in a larger survey of 5th and 6th year school pupils (n = 1062). These were paradigmatic cases – high academic achieving school pupils who had considered nursing as a possible career choice within their career preference cluster but had ultimately disregarded nursing and decided to pursue medicine or another health care profession as a career choice. Participants reported that nursing was eventually not viewed as using their examination grades to the maximum benefit. Also the participants reported a belief that the work of the doctor is more important and academic as they cure patients whereas the work of the nurse is practical and routine as they only care for patients. The pupils in addition asserted a negative image of nursing and a low status level of nursing as a career. They also articulated the unremarkable typical school pupils they perceived would pursue nursing as a career choice and the type of school pupil that they had witnessed being encouraged toward nursing within their schools, both of which conflicted with their own typology. Ultimately the high academic achieving school pupils were doubtful and suspicious as to the credibility of a degree in nursing and nursing as a university programme. Nursing is a very contentious career choice consideration for high academic achieving school pupils. There is strong evidence from the interview data to suggest that attracting high academic achieving school pupils into nursing could be hugely problematic.
- Secondary school pupils