Enrolled nurses entering undergraduate studies at second year to become registered nurses – a mixed methods study on commencing perceptions of bioscience

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Enrolled nurses who undertake the Bachelor of Nursing to qualify as registered nurses are usually offered advanced standing, awarding them credit for approximately one year of study. Bioscience subjects form an integral component of undergraduate nursing studies, yet being provided with credit means that these students study less bioscience than a standard-entry pathway. In this study, we examined the bioscience perceptions from enrolled nurses commencing at second year (n=49), using a mixed methods approach. Quantitative data were analysed to determine between and within group differences with age and studies of science in secondary school. Qualitative data were organised into emerging themes, and integrated with quantitative results during analysis. Participants who had studied biology and other science in secondary school had significantly greater agreement with the importance of studying science prior to the Bachelor of Nursing. Main challenges anticipated by these students included bioscience terminology and insufficient prior science knowledge, and the volume and depth of bioscience, particularly in comparison with nursing subjects. Insufficient skills in concentrating and retaining information were also identified as concerns. Nonetheless, most participants were confident that they would learn sufficient bioscience to work as a registered nurse. Prior experience working as an enrolled nurse did not appear to confer an understanding of the importance of bioscience for the future role of the registered nurse. It is paramount that the undergraduate bioscience component is tailored towards the specific needs of this cohort in preparation for their role as registered nurses.