The widespread nursing shortage is no secret in the current day and age. While many factors affect the demand for healthcare professionals — including an aging patient population with chronic illnesses and high rates of retirement among healthcare providers — nursing education also plays a role. According to the National League for Nurses, the national dropout rate for U.S. nursing education programs is 20%.
This high attrition rate of nursing students is reason for concern, but it begs the question: How can nursing programs retain students? The answer, research shows, largely involves strengthened faculty support and community encouragement for students.
A cohort program is one nursing education structure that has proven effective in lowering attrition rates. Online learning students often face isolation and a lack of motivation, but a cohort program can mitigate these challenges by helping students feel part of a team.
Cohort programs increase motivation
Cohort programs take students through degree completion as a group. The students take the same courses and go through the same learning process simultaneously. They begin their degree program together, study the same curriculum with the same professors and graduate together. This allows cohort members to build friendships and support systems they can rely on for questions or brainstorming.
Additionally, as they progress through their coursework, students no longer have to get to know their classmates in each new course. Instead, they can immediately engage, discuss coursework and understand each other's strengths and weaknesses. These relationships create intrinsic motivation and sustain the drive to complete the program.
Cohort programs help students build a professional network
Cohort programs help students build long-term professional networks that can open doors for them in the future. A cohort program vitalizes online learning and encourages participation by fostering familiarity, which gives students time to learn with whom they work best. Students can find study groups or partners that benefit their education.
Cohort programs serve as support groups
Members of a cohort program share similar career goals and aspirations; for that reason, they may share many of the same concerns and challenges. Cohort programs help ensure that online learning does not become isolating. They encourage supportive and encouraging learning environments for students, teach study and organizational practices and give students a sense of needed community.
By signing up to complete your studies with a cohort, you will be a part of an interactive, engaging community that could remain a part of your network for the rest of your career and beyond.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.