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The financial challenges for Australian nursing students attending placement-based work-integrated learning

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 01:28 authored by Usher, K, Fagan, A, Brown, JA, Carey MatherCarey Mather, Annette MarlowAnnette Marlow, Power, T, van de Mortel, T, West, C, Hutchinson, M, Zhao, L, Terry, V, Woods, C, Lea, J

Background: Mandatory placement-based work-integrated learning (WIL) poses challenges for nursing students who work whilst studying. The financial burden of WIL links to other known direct and indirect challenges, yet no Australian study has quantified the financial challenges resulting from attending mandatory WIL placements. Placement-based WIL costs may preclude some students from completing WIL, which may impact student attrition and the future health workforce.

Aim: To investigate Australian nursing students’ financial challenges related to mandatory WIL.

Methods: An online cross-sectional survey conducted with nursing students from nine Australian universities across five Australian states. The 28-question survey investigated the location of, and travels to, the most recent WIL placement; and students’ employment, accommodation, financial support, expenses and debts, and financial strain pertaining to WIL placements.

Results: Overall, 2,359 students participated. The majority were employed (84%); 65% of these reported that they were unable to work during WIL, affecting their employment. One-third incurred a financial liability from their placement, 79% reported financial hardship, and 73% found their placement stressful due to financial strain. Financial issues affected 62% of students’ health and wellbeing.

Discussion: Financial pressures related to WIL impact nursing students. While students have strategies to reduce these pressures, universities can also better manage their placement preferencing and support of students to reduce financial impacts of placement-based WIL on students.

Conclusions: Nursing students face substantial financial challenges related to placement-based WIL. Scholarship programs and other forms of support are required to assist nursing students to undertake WIL.


Publication title









School of Nursing


Elsevier BV

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2021 Australian College of Nursing Ltd. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Health system performance (incl. effectiveness of programs); Evaluation of health and support services not elsewhere classified; Nursing