Date of Award

Spring 1990

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Management

Committee Director

Wolfgang Pindur

Committee Member

Leonard I. Ruchelman

Committee Member

Linda Davis


This study identifies the occupational interests and predominant vocational personality types of freshmen students (undeclared majors, nursing majors, and non-nursing majors), explores perceptions about selected professional nursing functions and characteristics among the students, and examines perceptual differences between groups (majors).

A non-experimental ex post facto design is used to analyze data from 312 students in a large urban university. Descriptive and inferential statistics are applied in data analysis. The following findings support the hypotheses: (1) Nursing continues to attract the traditional student who has Holland's Social vocational personality type as measured by the Self-Directed Search, although many Social types are choosing rival health occupations. (2) The vocational personality profiles of the majors differ significantly, matching Holland's high point code letters for occupations represented by the more homogeneous majors. (3) Significant differences in gender, race, SDS and daydream high point letter codes, and if nursing has ever been considered for a career occur between majors. (4) Perceptions of nursing as measured by the Professional Nursing Functions and Characteristics Interest Inventory (PNFCII) are significantly different between the three groups and the majors. Women in all majors and over half of all respondents perceive nursing favorably. (5) Students with Social vocational personality codes, regardless of group or major, view the functions and characteristics of professional nursing positively.

Implications are as follows: (1) Social students need earlier identification for intensive recruitment by nursing; (2) Non-traditional students, including male, non-white, and more qualified, brighter students, with predominant vocational personality types other than Social, especially Investigative, should be targeted; (3) Recruitment strategies should promote role satisfaction and salary-related benefits, as well as traditional factors of helping people; (4) Nurse role modeling should be promoted in the community to make nursing visible to people who influence occupational choice; (5) The PNFCII instrument may be used in rating interest in nursing, guidance counseling, and recruiting; (6) Changing the name of nursing would not make a significant difference in recruitment; and (7) Nursing must be marketed differently to attract a wider group of people who would impact the fundamental image of the profession positively over time.