Choosing a career : why not nursing? : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Nursing at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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In today's society, young people have many different opportunities for career choices. Nursing is a career that could offer many challenges and rewards to young people, yet most do not choose a career in nursing. This research project aims to explore how young people make career decisions and why young people might choose or reject nursing as a career choice. The literature suggests that the process of decision-making for young people is a complex multi faceted process that is influenced by predisposing factors such as their family, gender, culture and society, their ability to search for career options and the choices available to them. Young people's career decision-making in relation to nursing also seems to be influenced by these factors. A qualitative descriptive research design was chosen for this research in order to bring the views of the participants to the forefront. Thirty four young people from two local colleges and a church group volunteered to participate in focus group interviews to discuss how they made career decisions and their perceptions of nursing as a career choice. Five focus groups were conducted including two single gender groups as well as three mixed gender groups. The majority of the participants identified as either Maori or Pasifika ethnicity. Data analysis was undertaken using thematic analysis to identify codes, categories and themes. Data analysis software called NVivo 7(QSR International, 2006) was used to aid in organising the data. The career decision-making process described by Leach and Zepke (2005) was used as a model to present the findings. The findings suggest that in the predisposition stage, it is crucial to provide culturally appropriate advice and support to parents because of the key role they have in the young person's career decision. In the search stage, it is important that young people make positive connections with role models and mentors and are supported in exploring their career interests and aspirations within the educational environment. In the choices stage, young people should be aided in developing a career pathway. Finally the profile of nursing needs to be raised across all three stages of the career decision-making process. Addressing gender stereotypes held by both male and female young people as well as by parents, the educational environments and the community seems crucial in order to develop nursing as an attractive career option for young people.
New Zealand, Nursing, Vocational guidance