Marshall faculty member's retention research published in international nursing journal

Dr. Nancy Elkins of the Marshall University College of Health Professions recently had her nursing student retention research published in the latest issue of Open Journal of Nursing, a peer-reviewed, international journal dedicated to the latest advancements in nursing.

Elkins, an associate professor in the college’s School of Nursing, said her quantitative research on retention is vital to the understanding of our current higher education environment.

“Attrition is a serious issue nationwide, with some nursing programs’ attrition rates reported to have been around 50 percent,” Elkins said. “The Government Affairs Committee of the American Nurses Association (2014) predicts that by 2022, the United States will need to produce more than one million additional nurses to fill both new nursing jobs and replace the wave of retiring nurses.

“Because this nursing shortage continues to grow, nurse educators cannot afford to lose qualified students hoping to become RNs and must increase the retention rate of nursing students who take one of the limited, sought-after positions in a nursing program.”

Elkins plans to continue her retention research by investigating the experiences of students who did not succeed in completing four-year baccalaureate nursing schools. She said the criteria for participation in this study include those who have been a student in a BSN nursing program and did not finish the program within the past 10 years. Participants in the study must have attended schools in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky or Virginia.

“The nature of this study is significant because the results could help educators have a better understanding from the students’ perspective about what factors played a major role in not successfully completing their BSN nursing program,” Elkins said. “The results of this study could assist educators in retention of BSN nursing students, which would help meet the Institute of Medicine’s goal of 80 percent of nurses holding a BSN degree or higher by 2020.”

Dr. Denise Landry, chair of the college’s School of Nursing, said research shows a link between higher levels of nursing education and better patient outcomes, and studies indicate increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses will lead to fewer medication errors and a lower patient mortality rate.

“Educators may use the results of this study to help identify these at-risk students early on, which would allow for early interventions to assist in retaining these at-risk students,” Landry said.

Elkins’ research article is titled “Predictors of Retention and Passing the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses” and has been published in the latest issue (Vol. 5 No. 3 2015) of the Open Journal of Nursing. For more information on Elkins’ publication and her ongoing retention research, contact her via email at or by calling 304-696-2617. To learn more about the Marshall School of Nursing, visit online.