The number of school leavers opting for nursing as their first choice has dropped by more than 5%, according to official figures.
CAO figures show those applying to study nursing are down 325 to 5,629.
However, applications for other healthcare related courses, where salaries are considered to be higher, have increased.
The numbers applying for agriculture and construction related course are up.
In total, the CAO received over 71,000 first preference applications this year.