Choice and perception of the nursing profession from the perspective of Polish nursing students: a focus group study.

BACKGROUND: Although previous quantitative studies provide important information on the factors which influence the choice of nursing as a career, qualitative analysis makes it possible to study the subject more thoroughly. The purpose of this study was to conduct an in-depth analysis of the reasons why Polish students choose nursing as a profession and their later perception of the job based on experiences acquired during the nursing course.

METHODS: A qualitative descriptive study was designed. We organized 8 focus group discussions with third-year nursing students. A total of 76 students participated in the study.

RESULTS: Several reasons why students had chosen the nursing profession were identified: desire to help others, family tradition, desire to work abroad, failure to get into another course, pure chance, and low admission requirements (relative to medical studies). The participants' views of the nursing profession were based on their own personal experiences or observations of nurses at work. Often these observations were superficial, concerning only selected fragments of nursing work. The participants also identified reasons for there being low regard for the nursing profession.

CONCLUSION: The decision about choosing nursing is mainly determined by practical aspects, e.g., the opportunity for employment. Although young people are aware of the low prestige of the nursing profession in Poland, they believe it is possible to improve its image and enhance its prestige.