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ISRN Nursing
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 748238, 10 pages
Review Article

Using a Socioecological Framework to Understand the Career Choices of Single- and Double-Degree Nursing Students and Double-Degree Graduates

1School of Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Newcastle, Ourimbah, NSW 2258, Australia
2School of Teacher Education, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW 2795, Australia

Received 31 March 2012; Accepted 4 June 2012

Academic Editors: C. Huston, J. S. Lymn, and B. Mandleco

Copyright © 2012 Noelene Hickey et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Untested changes in nursing education in Australia, such as the introduction of double degrees in nursing, necessitate a new research approach to study nursing career pathways. A review of the literature on past and present career choice theories demonstrates these are inadequate to gain an understanding of contemporary nursing students’ career choices. With the present worldwide shortage of nurses, an understanding of career choice becomes a critical component of recruitment and retention strategies. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how an ecological system approach based on Bronfenbrenner’s theory of human development can be used to understand and examine the influences affecting nursing students’ and graduates’ career development and career choices. Bronfenbrenner’s socioecological model was adapted to propose a new Nursing Career Development Framework as a way of conceptualizing the career development of nursing students undertaking traditional bachelor of nursing and nontraditional double-degree nursing programs. This Framework is then applied to a study of undergraduate nurses’ career decision making, using a sequential explanatory mixed method study. The paper demonstrates the relevance of this approach for addressing challenges associated with nursing recruitment, education, and career choice.