Copyright held by the author. Posted with permission. Also can be found in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, AAT 3401302.

A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Louisville and Graduate Studies and Research at Western Kentucky University for the Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education (University of Louisville) and College of Education and Behavioral Sciences (Western Kentucky University.


The inconsistencies between the perception of the profession of nursing and the reality of practice can lead to problems in student attrition or result in disillusionment with a career in nursing after a new graduate enters practice. With the nursing shortage reaching critical levels, it is important to examine possible discrepancies that exist and address strategies to reduce them.

For this study, a quantitative design was selected to explore how the perception of the nursing profession compared among first-semester associate degree nursing students, first-semester baccalaureate nursing students, and registered nurses. A convenience sample N = 238 included 69 ADN students, 38 BSN students, and 131 registered nurses. Each participant completed the Perceptions of Professional Nursing Tool (PPNT) which measured perceptions utilizing the tenets of nursing Practice, Values, and Public Image.

French and Kahn's (1962) person-environment fit model served as a framework for this study. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and psychometric computations (factor analysis, Cronbach's alpha, and inter-scale correlations). Research questions asked (a) What differences existed among the groups in regard to demographics? (b) What differences in the perception of the profession of nursing existed among the groups? and (c) To what extent does organizational context (ADN program, BSN program, and RN) affect the perceptions of nursing when controlling for demographics? Research questions were analyzed with ANOVA and/or ANCOVA techniques utilizing SPSS.

Findings revealed significant differences regarding demographics among the groups were age, healthcare experience, healthcare position, and education. The tenet of Practice was different among the groups (RNs scored higher); Values and Public Image revealed no significant differences. When controlling for demographic controls, Practice and Public Image were significantly different among the groups. BSN students and RNs revealed the most difference in their view of the public image of nursing (BSN students thought the public viewed nursing image higher than the RNs.

Recommendations for practice include (a) encouraging respect among nurses with all levels of education, (b) providing accurate information about nursing practice, (c) requiring a class about the profession to prospective nursing students, (d) incorporating RNs in practice into the classroom to talk about their work, and (e) addressing nursing stereotypes through frequent classroom examples from the media followed by discussions.



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