Institutional scope to shape persistence and departure among nursing students: re-framing Tinto for professional degrees

Liz Thomas, Elisabeth Hovdhaugen*, Rachel Sweetman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tinto’s (1993) interactional model of student departure was initially developed for students in traditional academic degrees, at residential colleges in the US. This paper takes up Tinto as a fruitful starting point for a critical review of the aspects of the model which are more and less suitable for professional degrees: integration and commitment. Since nursing degrees are quite different from traditional academic degrees, particularly when it comes to the structure of the programme, this calls for a rethink of how the concepts can be used. The paper suggests that a Tinto-type model could be adjusted to offer a valuable tool with which to inform institutional work on retention and completion in nursing programmes, and potentially in other short professional degrees. While we identified limitations in how integration functions in a nursing programme, the existing model could be adapted to account for professional commitment, which in turn may counteract the fragmented integration nursing students experience. As nursing students’ initial commitment is much stronger (compared to other student groups), and this is linked to professional identity, students seem less interested in developing a student identity. Institutions should therefore consider alternative integration activities, activities which build on and contribute to the professional commitment students come into the institution with. Additionally, the integration activities also need to consider teaching at several sites, as nursing students switch between their institution and various practice placements, and therefore have a more interrupted study path.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalTertiary Education and Management
Early online date3 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2023

Cite this