Veteran nurses struggle to make grade

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Registered nurses with a lot of experience might have a harder time in graduate school than less seasoned nurses, according to a first-of-its-kind pilot study from California State University-San Marcos.

More years of professional experience correlated with lower grade point average, master's student Toni Ann Locke determined, based on data from the registrar's office and self-reported information from her classmates in CSU's School of Nursing. 

Veteran nurses might struggle in the transition from being an expert to a student, Locke surmised. Also, younger nurses who were more recently students might meet academic demands more readily. 

Participants also completed a questionnaire measuring how much intuition guides their nursing. Intuition is an important “non-cognitive” aspect of nursing, and academic programs generally only look at cognitive measures such as test scores, Locke noted. Greater intuitiveness also was linked to lower GPA, she found. 

Acknowledging that her sample size was small, Locke said her findings suggest experience and intuition have a notable influence on GPA and should be considered in the admissions process.