The lack of qualified mental health nurses is at critical level with the problem likely to worsen as the aging mental health nursing workforce retires. This study investigates the career preferences of undergraduate nursing students by comparing preferences at the start, middle, and end of the Bachelor of Nursing program. The comparison of the cohorts gave an indication of the change in preferences over the intervening years. It replicates research completed in 1992, 1997, and 2001, and develops a profile of nursing career preferences and the rationale underpinning those preferences in a cohort of students (n = 150) who began their Bachelor of Nursing studies in 2007 and completed in 2009. The main findings included that, like the previous studies, mental health nursing is one of the least desirable career choices for most nurses at the start of their course and remains so as they approach graduation. The reasons change but the outcome remains the same. The current system of using the Bachelor of Nursing award to produce mental health nurses in Australia does not encourage nurses to consider a career in mental health nursing. Which begs the question: where will mental health nurses in the future come from?
International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. Vol. 22, Issue 3, p. 213-220