Exploring absenteeism of nursing and midwifery students in a selected campus in Free State province, South Africa.
Magobolo, Griselda Nokuzola
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Background. Student nurse attendance during training is mandatory and the South African Nursing Council (SANC) stipulates that students must attend a certain percentage of hours for both theory and practice during their training. Unauthorized student nurse absenteeism, especially in the clinical areas, has become an increasing problem in nursing education institutions and in the universities. This study explored student absenteeism with the aim of generating solutions which are specifically relevant to the context of the Free State School of Nursing. Methods: A non-experimental, descriptive, exploratory design was used to guide the research process. The non-probability convenience sampling method was used, with 152 nursing and midwifery students as participants. Data was collected by means of a questionnaire. Data analysis was performed using SPSS version 23.0. Descriptive statistics and co-relational procedures were used to analyse the data. Results: The results showed a significant relationship between age and absenteeism. Evidence revealed that younger participants between the age range of 18-30 years were in agreement that students are absent at the college because lecturers' teaching methods are boring and they are avoiding certain wards with very sick patients. The majority (62.5%) of second-year participants agreed that students are absent in college because they are lazy to do the work, while 48% of third-year and 2.6% of fourth year participants agreed. The students proposed college holidays after the first semester examinations, family responsibility, sick leave and an increase in their monthly stipend. Conclusions: Nursing and midwifery students at the selected campus are generally absent at the college and clinical areas because they: attend leadership meetings, have family challenges to attend, are not paid for working but funded for studying, and because of physical illness. It was recommended that lecturers should make use of innovative teaching strategies that stimulate the students` analytical thinking and creativity to avoid boredom in class, as well as introduction of rewards and/ or incentives in the form of certificates or trophies for students who do not absent themselves.