A longitudinal study of nurses’ career choices: The importance of career expectations on employment in care of older people
Aims: To investigate how undergraduate nursing students’ career expectations relate to their career choices, particularly employment in care of older people, in the first ten years of nurses’ careers. Background: Due to an increasing demand for nurses, it is important to understand nurses’ career choices over the course of their careers. Design: A quantitative longitudinal study of 445 undergraduate nursing students based on a questionnaire survey and register data. Methods: Data were analysed by multinomial logistic regression analyses. The questionnaire was distributed to all undergraduate nursing students in 2001 and 2003 in their final study semester at four universities in Norway (n=445) to collect the students’ career expectations. Register data on clinical fields for the first ten years after graduation were merged into the survey in 2014 (Statistics Norway). Results: With exception of the very first years after graduation, care of older people is the most common field for undergraduate nurses to enter for a career. This choice can be understood in light of nurses’ career expectations. Among newly educated nurses, the choice to work in care of older people (rather than general hospital care) correlates with expectations of achieving a management position. Ten years after graduation, the likelihood of working in care of older people rather correlates with nurses’ expectations of part-time work. Conclusion: The likelihood of moving into care of older people increases with time in nursing careers and relates to nurses’ career expectations such as achieving a leadership position and working part-time.