Effect of an Orientation Activity on the Perception and Attitude on First Year Direct Bachelors Nursing Students towards the Nursing Profession, A Study Done in Four Universities in Central Uganda.

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Background and Objective: The roles that nurses play in health care are numerous but not well known to the public nor to the students who join nursing. The students instead join with various misperceptions of the profession and they have limited awareness of the different opportunities in nursing. Without any intervention to correct the misperceptions, the students’ attitude towards their chosen nursing course remains questionable and this can affect their performance in school and the quality of nurses they make after school. Orientation programs have been proven to clear misperceptions and promote a positive attitude towards nursing, but their effect has not been studied in Uganda. The purpose of this study was therefore, to determine how an orientation activity affects the perception and attitude of first year nursing students towards the Nursing profession. Method: It was a descriptive quantitative study with a pre-post interventional design (quasi experimental). It was carried out in four universities in central Uganda and 64 students participated. Pre-test data was collected, followed by a one-hour orientation presentation about nursing professionalism, roles and specialties among others in each institution. Then, Post- data was collected two weeks later using self-administered questionnaires. Data was analyzed using stata version 16, and descriptive statistics included: mean, standard deviation, and frequencies. The relationship between variables was examined using a paired T-test with a P value of < 0.05 to measure significance. Results: Students had favorable perceptions in some aspects before the presentation, for example like; the need of knowledge and skills to practice(M=2.1, SD=.9), professional autonomy(M=2.1, SD=.9), gender(M=2.1, SD=.9), nurses’ contribution to research(M=2.1, SD=.9), etc. However, their ideas about nursing were found to be limited and unfavorable in some other aspects before the presentation for example on: nurses pay (M=2.1, SD=.9), marriage (M=2.8, SD=.9), advanced roles (M=2.9, SD= .8), males make good nurses (M=3, SD=.9). Following the presentation, students became more aware of the roles and opportunities in nursing like professionalism, advanced roles, marriage and specialties. Therefore, the presentation had a significant effect on the students perception as shown by the paired T-test (Pr(|T| > |t|)= 0.033 & Pr(T > t)= 0.016 > 0.05) at 5% level. Although some aspects of attitude obtained favorable mean scores, students had an unfavorable score on their comfort in attending to the hygiene needs of others (M=2.7, SD: .9) and this was one of the lowest mean scores before and after the presentation. There was little but no change in their attitude except increment in their intention to remain in nursing following the presentation. Conclusion: These findings reveal that students have some favorable perception of nursing at the beginning of the course. However, their ideas are limited and unfavorable in some other aspects of nursing. Also, unfavorable attitude towards nursing was noted before and after the presentation in very important profession aspects. An orientation activity can improve students’ perceptions and attitude towards nursing, but more effort is needed to change the students’ attitude towards caring for the hygiene needs of others. Educators should pick interest in knowing the students’ perception at the beginning of their course and create intentional positive professional experiences to correct any misperception and influence students’ attitude towards nursing.