Retention and the academic success of nursing students remains a high priority in Australian and global higher education. This study examines an embedded academic support strategy, provided by Professional Communication Academic Literacy (PCAL) support staff, and undergraduate Bachelor of Nursing student uptake of the support. It reports on the profile of those who sought support, and the relationships between student support, retention and academic performance. A total of 11 290 PCAL consultations were recorded during a 17-month period from January 2016, with these consultations initiated by 2827 individual students. Among the undergraduate nursing students (n = 4472), those who sought PCAL support were over 7 times more likely (Adjusted Odds Ratio: 7.81, 95% CI: 6.18 to 9.86) to continue in the nursing program, taking into consideration age and enrolment category of students. Among students who continued or are continuing in the program, those who did not seek PCAL support had a lower grade point average (GPA) (mean: 3.9) compared to those who sought PCAL support between 1 and 3 times (mean: 4.3), and those who sought PCAL support on more than 3 occasions had the highest GPA (mean: 4.4), suggesting that frequency of consultations influenced academic success and retention.