BACKGROUND: The focus of education in nursing has changed over time with a decreased focus on biomedicine and an increased focus on nursing science. It is therefore important to investigate whether these changes are also reflected in the students' conceptions and expectations of the programme over time.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to describe and compare two cohorts of students entering the nursing programme with 10year in between (2003 and 2013), regarding their demographic background, reasons for wanting to become a registered nurse, expectations of the programme and perceptions of the nursing profession.
DESIGN AND SETTING: The study was a descriptive cross-sectional cohort study carried out at a university in southern Sweden.
PARTICIPANTS: In all, 177 nursing students participated in the study, 89 from the 2003 cohort and 88 from the 2013 cohort.
METHODS: Data were collected at the start of the programme using a questionnaire consisting of predefined and open-ended questions. The responses were statistically analysed and compared.
RESULTS: The students' reasons for wanting to become a registered nurse remained stable over the 10-year period. The main reason stated by the students in both cohort was humanitarian, i. e wanting to help others. The students' expectations regarding both the programme and the nursing profession had, however, changed significantly from a biomedical to a nursing orientation in the 10-year perspective.
CONCLUSIONS: The change in the students' preconceptions of the nursing education towards increasing importance of nursing science indicates the beginning of a paradigm shift.
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