Readiness for continued learning and empowered nursing practice among graduating nursing students of associate and baccalaureate degree programs
George, Rajamma Varghese
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The critical shortage of competent nurses, disillusionment, and high attrition rate among graduates entering the workforce provided the impetus for this investigation. The purpose of this study was to determine the perceived level of empowerment among graduating nursing students of two basic nursing educational programs and the relationship of empowerment to selected variables. The selected variables were self-directed learning readiness, self-esteem, level in the program, and demographics. In addition, predictors of empowerment were investigated. A sample of 294 nursing students of associate and baccalaureate degree programs from five schools of nursing in the Mid-Atlantic region participated in the study. Instruments used were the Vincenz Empowerment Scale, Self- Directed Learning Readiness Scale, and Self-Esteem Inventory and a data sheet for demographics. The survey was completed from June to September 1994. Nursing students in general perceived themselves to have fairly high levels of empowerment, self-directed learning readiness, and self-esteem which was significantly higher for graduating students as compared to freshman students. There were no significant differences among the variables under study between baccalaureate and associate degree students or the type of institution they represented as private or public. Similarly, there were no differences in their perceived levels of empowerment, self-directed learning readiness, or self-esteem based on gender, racial/ethnic background, or affiliation with Student Nurses' Association. The wide variation in age and educational background ranging from high school to graduate degrees were associated with the participants' levels of self-directed learning readiness and self-esteem. In addition, participants who were involved in community organizations reported higher levels of empowerment. Regression analysis indicated self-directed learning readiness and self-esteem contributed significantly to the variance in empowerment. The findings add to the empowerment literature. Implications for nursing education include: (a) enhancing students' level of self-directed learning readiness and self-esteem may assist in empowering them, and (b) the basic educational process plays a significant role in nursing students' perceived levels of empowerment.
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