Adjusting to university: perceptions of first-year health professions students

Malau-Aduli, Bunmi S., Adu, Mary D., Alele, Faith, Jones, Karina, Drovandi, Aaron, Mylrea, Martina, Sfera, Kornelija, Ross, Simone, and Jennings, Ernest (2021) Adjusting to university: perceptions of first-year health professions students. Public Library of Science ONE, 16 (5). e0251634.

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Background: The transition experience into university can be challenging for health profession students as they are required to rapidly learn diverse and adaptable problem solving skills and advanced reflective thinking processes which are necessary to address complex patient-care problems, particularly in the face of uncertainty within a dynamic and rapidly evolving learning environment.

Methods: A mixed-methods study was conducted to identify factors influencing this transition for first-year medical, dental, and pharmacy students at a regional Australian university. The Student Adaption to College Questionnaire (SACQ) examined participants’ levels of adjustment to university, while Schlossberg’s 4 S transition model was utilised in a framework analysis of the focus group and interview responses.

Results: Complete survey responses were obtained from 198 students, 17 of whom also participated in focus group discussions or interviews. Mean adjustment ratings obtained from the SACQ responses were academic (6.09 ± 1.3) personal-emotional (5.53 ± 1.55), social (6.30 ± 1.38), and institutional attachment (6.96 ± 1.6). These results indicate that the personal and emotional aspects of this transition were more challenging for the students. Analysis of the qualitative data revealed that generally, for these highly motivated health-professions students, dropping out of university was not an option and this had a positive influence on their ability to adjust to their new learning environment. Nonetheless, the transition involved role change; school-leavers were excited about their newly found independence, while for mature-aged students, returning to university allowed them to pursue their lifelong dreams. Adjustment was more challenging for international, mature-aged and female students, with personal and social factors influencing the transition for each of these demographic groups.

Conclusions: To facilitate smooth transition into university, tertiary education institutions must consider tailored on-going support strategies that promote social interaction among students with varied backgrounds and personal characteristics.

Item ID: 68161
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Copyright Information: © 2021 Malau-Aduli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date Deposited: 30 May 2021 23:51
FoR Codes: 39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390110 Medicine, nursing and health curriculum and pedagogy @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2099 Other health > 209999 Other health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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