Marshall nursing professor conducting study

Published 2:54 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Marshall University School of Nursing professor Dr. Nancy Elkins, from Ironton, is making strides to help the nursing profession as a whole.

After completing a quantitative study for a dissertation on academic variables that predict success, she is now working on a qualitative study on why some nursing students are not able to complete their four-year baccalaureate nursing programs in Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.

“When I was looking at my dissertation research, I noticed that there was no qualitative research done on the retention,” she said. “I wanted to start collecting data and interview students to see why they felt they were not successful in the nursing programs.”

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The registered nurse workforce is a top ten occupation in the United States with an expected job growth of 26 percent, which is an increase of 1.2 million nursing jobs through 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Even with all of the upside of a nursing profession, however, there is a growing shortage of nurses.

“The nursing shortage is expected to grow and it is projected that the United States will need an additional 340,000 nurses by the year 2020, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing,” Elkins said. “Because the nursing shortage continues to grow, nurse educators cannot afford to lose qualified students hoping to become RNs. We must increase the retention rate of nursing students who take one of the limited, sought-after positions in the nursing program.”

Elkins is conducting this research with fellow nursing colleague, Dr. Joyce Cline.

“I will be conducting interviews and collecting information until it is very rich and saturated,” Elkins said. “With this type of research, there is no time period. It is just about collecting enough data until it sort of forms a pattern.”

Students who have started but have not completed a four-year baccalaureate nursing program in Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio or Kentucky are encouraged to participate.

Research such as this is necessary when one considers the number of nurses that will be needed over the next several years and the results of this study would help to improve retention rates at Marshall as well as other surrounding universities, she said.

Anyone who qualifies for the study and would like to participate can contact Elkins by email at or calling at 304-696-2617.

All participants will receive $50 for a one-hour interview.