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Original Research

The crusade – a metaphorical explication of the journey made by mature female undergraduate nursing students

Submitted: 28 March 2008
Revised: 13 May 2008
Published: 16 September 2008

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Author(s) : Drury VB, Francis K, Chapman Y.

Vicki DruryKaren FrancisYsanne Chapman

Citation: Drury VB, Francis K, Chapman Y.  The crusade – a metaphorical explication of the journey made by mature female undergraduate nursing students. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2008; 8: 978. Available: (Accessed 17 October 2017)


Introduction:  Mature students now account for a significant percentage of undergraduate nursing students. For most mature students, application for access to a university course and subsequent enrolment will generate changes that can have long-term effects on their and their family’s lives. Commencing university study is a major transition in the mature student’s life, producing increased stress and lifestyle adjustment and changes. The mature age student participating in tertiary study has undergone, and continues to experience, transition, resulting in new social networks, new behaviours and a new sense of self. Little has been written about this rite of passage and the journey these students take as they negotiate learning to nurse.
Methods:  The constructivist grounded theory utilised is an interpretive research method that uses the constant comparative method to reduce data and develop categories and codes. Data collection and data analysis occurs concurrently but also cyclically. Ten participants were interviewed from two rural Australian universities for this study.
Results:  The mature students in this study identified five discrete yet overlapping stages in their university journey, expressed as: (1) initiating the crusade; (2) engaging the force; (3) retreating and regrouping; (4) soldiering on; and (5) the victory march. Initiating the crusade involves mature students preparing for university, while engaging the force examines the beginning of the university journey whereby participants identify new skills needed to learn to navigate their student role. Retreating and regrouping occurs when students’ emotional integrity is threatened and involves students harnessing emotional strength through support from peers that allows them to soldier on or to keep going despite crisis and conflicting role demands. Finally, students spoke of a victory march, that is the day they have successfully completed their degree and the feelings of self-actualisation and pride they experience at that time.
Conclusion:  The findings from this study indicate that the rurality factors that impact significantly on mature female nursing undergraduates are lack of resources, minimal formal support structures, and long travel time and associated costs.

Keywords:  mature students, nursing, nurse education, transition.

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