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Career Preferences of Nursing Students*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 October 2012

Odette N. Gould
Mount Allison University
Anna MacLennan
Mount Allison University
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
Université de Moncton
E-mail address:


This study investigates novice and experienced student nurses’ attitudes about caring for patients across the lifespan. Students were also asked why they would enjoy or not enjoy caring for children and older adults. Both novice (n = 114) and advanced (n = 56) nursing students were relatively positive about caring for patients across the lifespan. However, novices were significantly more negative about working with older patients, particularly after experiencing a first clinical placement. In contrast, a significant quadratic effect was found for advanced students, indicating more negativity about working with both children and older adults. When giving reasons for why they would enjoy caring for older patients, novices were more likely than were advanced students to focus on stereotypical characteristics and on negative health outcomes of older adults as a group. Overall, results suggest that the attitudes driving career interests in nursing students change as training advances.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2012

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This research was supported in part by grants from the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research at the Université de Moncton awarded to the third author. The authors thank all the nursing students who participated in this data collection.


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