Factors causing stress among first-year students attending a nursing college in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

E M Langtree, A Razak, F Haffejee


Background. In South Africa (SA), there is a high failure rate of students in the first year of nursing and many drop out after this year, a precarious situation considering the shortage of professional nurses faced by the country. Academic success does not entirely comprise one’s application of intellectual capacity. Other factors may affect academic success, which could lead to stress, in turn hindering students’ academic potential.

Objectives. To determine the stressors experienced by first-year nursing students who attended a college of nursing in SA and to ascertain the stress-relieving mechanisms used by these students.

Methods. Student nurses (n=248) at a college of nursing in KwaZulu-Natal Province, SA, were required to complete a quantitative questionnaire. Data were collected between September and November 2013.

Results. Long working hours, difficulty of academic work, poor study methods and family illness caused considerable stress. Family pressure to pay for necessities at home was also a factor that caused stress among the students. There was insufficient money to pay for textbooks for their studies. Stress-relieving mechanisms included playing with cell phones and socialising with friends. Lecturers, parents and fellow nursing students’ friends were a source of support.

Conclusion. First-year nursing students experience a variety of stressors not directly related to their studies. Stress- and time-management workshops would be beneficial to these students. We also suggest that institutional support units be created to assist students in adjusting to the tertiary environment.

Authors' affiliations

E M Langtree, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Durban University of Technology, and Port Shepstone Campus, KwaZulu-Natal College of Nursing, South Africa

A Razak, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Durban University of Technology, South Africa

F Haffejee, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Durban University of Technology, South Africa

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First-year student; Nursing college; South Africa; Stressors; Stress-relieving mechanisms

Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2018;10(2):90-95. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.2018.v10i2.993

Article History

Date submitted: 2018-07-06
Date published: 2018-07-06

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