For nurses, the transition from higher education to working life involves several
types of changes and seems to be a major contributing cause of distress and, consequently,
ill health on a longer term basis. The aim of this study was to longitudinally monitor
the development of self-rated health (SRH) in nurses, starting from the last semester
at the university with subsequent follow-ups when the nurses had entered working life.
The Longitudinal Analyses of Nurses' Education and working life is an ongoing nationwide
longitudinal project focusing on mapping health and career development in nurses in
Sweden. SRH is one of the most widely used single-item measures of perceived health
status with a well-established predictive ability on future health outcomes, including
morbidity and mortality. This study found a small but significant and continuous decline
in SRH among nurses during 3 years of follow-ups, starting from their last semester
of nursing education and continuing 3 years into their working life. The most pronounced
decline in SRH seems to occur in the transition between student life and working life
and is most explicit among the youngest nurses. However, the long-term effect on SRH
when entering into working life seems to be more pronounced among the older nurses.