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Mind the gap: The relationship between liminality, learning and leaving in pre-registration nurse education

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  • J. Crane
  • M.-L. Abbott
Article number102952
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/01/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Nurse Education in Practice
Number of pages7
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date18/12/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Attrition refers to students leaving programmes of study before completion. This is an important topic area; there is a current global shortage of nurses, and it is widely reported that nursing is in crisis. Nurse education in the United Kingdom has changed substantially in the past fifty years, gradually moving from work-based apprentice style training to an ‘all graduate entry’ profession. There is a plethora of literature reporting attrition both in the UK and worldwide. It is clear that regardless of the education model, attrition from pre-registration programmes is a long-standing problem which has attracted much attention. The educative process of learning to be a nurse can be likened to a ‘rite of passage’, or perhaps a series of rites of passage. Rites of passage were first articulated by anthropologists, van Gennep and Turner. Van Gennep and Turner argued that as people make ‘transitions’, often via ‘rites of passage’ they pass through an in-between phase described as ‘liminal’. This paper explores aspects of liminality in nurse education and examines the potential relationship with attrition. The paper concludes by suggesting that although liminality could be considered a risk factor for attrition, exploitation of the concept may offer opportunities to enhance learning.