MATURE NURSING STUDENT’S EXPERIENCES OF THIRD LEVEL EDUCATION
Mature students return to full time education for a myriad of reason. They encounter a uniqueeducational experience during their journey through third level education and therefore this is atopic warranting discussion.
Background to the proposed study
Change in nurse education combined with changes in access to third level institutes has resultedin a changed student profile in nursing. The changes in nurse recruitment in Ireland over the pasttwo decades have allowed greater access to non-traditional or mature students. Mature studentsenter third level education with different needs and motivations than their younger counterparts.The profile characteristics of mature students are that they are committed, self-directed, hard-working and caring (
O’ Brien et al 2009
; Kevern and Webb 2004 and Montgomery et al 2009).Despite these positive attributes mature students encounter challenges different to their youngercounterparts including balancing college and home life, financial challenges and stress (Evansand Kelly 2004; Drury et al 2008 and McCarey et al 2007). Universities and clinical placementsites have a huge impact the experiences of mature students and preceptors in particular arecentral to this experience (Happell 2009; Pearcey and Elliott 2004 and Midgley 2005).
The significance of the research topic
Globally, mature students account for 50% of all students enrolled in universities (Malhotra et al2007) which highlights the need for nursing courses to be able to facilitate the needs of themature learner (Fleming and McKee 2005). At present however mature students are expected tofit into the structures that already exist within the university which have mainly been set up for
younger students making their progression through the nursing programme more challenging (O’
Brien et al 2009). The experiences of mature nursing students have been documented elsewhere(Drury et al 2008; Lauder and Cuthbertson 1998 and Steele et al 2005), however there appears tobe a considerable gap in available data describing the Irish position. The literature was obtainedthrough databases such as Cinahl, Biomed Central, Medline, Nursing and Allied Health,PsycArticles, Science Direct, PsycINFO, and Wiley Online Library using the keywords, student,