Mature students' experiences of undergraduate nurse education programmes: The Irish experience

O'Brien, F., Keogh, B. and Neenan, K. (2009) Mature students' experiences of undergraduate nurse education programmes: The Irish experience. Nurse Education Today, 29 (6). pp. 635-640. ISSN 02606917 (ISSN)


In recent years mature students have been encouraged into nurse education for the valuable qualities they are known to possess, along with their ability to assist in providing a sustainable solution to the current health care crisis. Unfortunately corresponding resources and support structures have not accompanied this widening of access and mature students are expected to fit into structures that already exist, structures that were formulated with eighteen year olds in mind. This qualitative study explores the experiences of mature students in nurse education. Three discipline specific focus group interviews were used as a means of gathering data from 28 mature students. Data were analysed using thematic content analysis as described by Burnard [Burnard, P., 1991. A method of analysing interview transcripts in qualitative research. Nurse Education Today 11, 461-466]. Findings revealed that students continue to struggle with the academic component of the course. They also found it difficult to balance the home and university divide. Greater challenges were identified by female participants as they maintained their previous roles. Males on the other hand were provided with greater freedom to pursue their studies. There is a need for curricular changes to be implemented in order to provide a greater flexibility and supportive experience for mature students. Further research is advocated in this area. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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