Career Aspirations of Student Nurses from Kamuzu and Nkhoma Nursing Colleges in Malawi
Dembo, Z. (2013) Career Aspirations of Student Nurses from Kamuzu and Nkhoma Nursing Colleges in Malawi, no. 89.
Nurses in Malawi play a vital role in the health system particularly in the public health service where they provide the bulk of primary health services. However, Malawi faces critical shortage of this important cadre of health workers. At the current nurse patient ratio of 38 nurses per 100,000 people, Malawi does not have anywhere near enough nurses to meet its health care needs. Nursing shortage can partially be addressed by reinforcing the motivation factors that attract and retain new entrants into the nursing profession and the health system. The current study sought to contribute to this insight by exploring the career aspirations and motivation of student nurses from KCN and Nkhoma College of nursing in Malawi in order to contribute to the body of knowledge that inform the development of recruitment and retention strategies of nurses. This was a qualitative study which used 3 focus group discussions and 16 individual in depth interviews for data collection among 37 final year student nurses. Both the focus group discussions and interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. The findings highlight that the choice of a nursing programme was influenced by desire to help people, advice from significant others, anticipated career rewards and while for others it was by default. For nearly all students, the impact of training experiences on career choice decision through contact with coursework, practical experience and lecturers were marked. Future career ambitions suggest that good working conditions, clear career development paths and government scholarships are likely to improve students' motivation for the nursing profession and retention within the public health care system. The author concluded that if the current shortage of nursing is to be addressed, recruitment strategies should strive to put more efforts on marketing the positive opportunities that exist in nursing to high school students so that applicants are more informed of the realities of career Opportunities while retention strategies should include financial and non financial incentive packages.