The experience of nursing school failure
The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological study was to describe the experience of nursing school failure. Nursing student failure is a common phenomenon in nursing education but it has not been studied from the viewpoint of those who have experienced it. Participants in the study were former nursing students who failed out of a baccalaureate program. The main research question was: What is the experience of nursing school failure?
These former students represent a population that researchers rarely have access to. The study methodology was developed based on the phenomenological premises of Husserl and Meleau-Ponty. Whitemore and Colleagues' framework for establishing validity in qualitative inquiry was followed to establish the trustworthiness of the findings.
Findings revealed an overall gestalt of the experience of nursing school failure as emotional, unexpected, and life changing. Six essences, representing the essential pieces of the experience of nursing school failure, emerged from analysis of the participants' descriptions of the experience. Findings include the inability of these participants to recognize their own risk of failure, and their belief that, even with evidence to the contrary, failure would not become a reality. Additionally, the findings revealed what the participants went on to experience after involuntary attrition had occurred. Implications for nurse educators to assist struggling students include constructing interventions to increase student awareness a self risk for failure, offering interventions early that do not focus on career advice, as well as improving the nursing school environment. Student nurses can also benefit from hearing the stories of students who have failed, to improve their own understanding of how failure can become a reality and to provide hope after failure occurs.