In the Netherlands, an individual with or without a nursing background can enrol in a nurse anaesthetist or theatre nurse program. Admission to the program requires either a secondary school diploma with a specialisation in physics and health, or a nursing degree. At the end of the study, the Dutch anaesthetic nurse is comparable to a nurse anaesthetist in other countries while theatre nurses are similar in scope of practice to scrub/scout nurses in other European countries. Retention of students is challenging, with an attrition rate of around 24 per cent adding to the cost for hospitals delivering the program1. Identifying ways to improve the efficiency of program delivery through enhanced student retention is a key priority for hospitals delivering this program. In this study, a longitudinal survey design was used to investigate student perceptions of their locus of control, a concept which is linked with motivation, persistence and achievement in study and work. Data was collected from a sample of 100 students over a five-year period in the Netherlands.