Nursing is facing a recruitment crisis with particular difficulty recruiting to areas such as primary and elderly care. This is compounded by poor retention and is a particular problem amongst newly qualified nurses in the first two years post qualification. Transitioning into a new role is challenging in any occupation, but it is a particular problem in nursing where the realities of professional practice often differ from the students’ perception of the role. The process of transition is fundamental to the recruitment and retention of newly qualified nurses. Much of the available literature focuses on graduates in their first year of employment with very little focusing on student nurses aiming to gain their first destination posts (Harris et al. 2013). This study examined the factors influencing the career decisions of adult and mental health nursing students who are on the verge of qualification. The findings will be used to suggest strategies to support students in making career decisions and contribute to improving the recruitment and retention of newly qualified nurses.