Postgraduate nursing education in Nigeria: understanding registered and graduated students’ experiences in their journeys to programme completion or withdrawal
Background: Nigerian nursing education has developed from initially limited numbers of missionary schools to a more substantial expansion of urban, hospital-based institutions since 1945. Postcolonial emancipation sparked the University of Ibadan into opening the first Department of Nursing in Nigeria in 1965. This triggered the creation of further university-based undergraduate programmes across Nigeria, though many hospital-based schools offering diploma level training have also been retained. The first postgraduate nursing programme commenced in 1988 at the Obafemi Awolowo University, followed by the University of Ibadan and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. These three universities are still the main postgraduate nursing education providers in Nigeria today. The Nigerian Government and professional stakeholders including the Nigerian Nursing and Midwifery Council are concerned by the low graduation rate of nursing students in relation to the standard programme duration of one year for masters’ and three years for PhD programmes (10%), and their relatively high rate of attrition (20%). Objectives; The study seeks to understand the experiences of postgraduate nursing students in Nigeria. Research method: The research participants included registered and graduated postgraduate nursing students, lecturers, and the staff of nursing education coordinating bodies. They were recruited to this study purposively and by snowballing. The research employed a qualitative inquiry method using face-to-face interviews, the methodology being informed by a critical realist worldview with regard to agency and structure. Result: The key findings revealed that the students’ experiences of delay in completing their programme were influenced by student factors (allocation of time between full-time work and full-time study, and sponsorship); lecturer factors (workload and workforce development); policy issues (programme structure and implementation); and social structures and mechanisms in Nigeria. Recommendation: The researcher recommends further studies on the impact of gender on nursing education, the relationship between postgraduate nursing students’ experience and their expectations, and the effect of international partnerships on postgraduate nursing education in Nigeria. He further recommends a review of the postgraduate nursing curriculum. Conclusion: Findings from such studies would further help to improve the students’ experiences.