Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Lived Experiences of Racially and Ethnically Underrepresented Minority BSN Students: A Case Study Specifically Exploring Issues Related to Recruitment and Retention

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Lived Experiences of Racially and Ethnically Underrepresented Minority BSN Students: A Case Study Specifically Exploring Issues Related to Recruitment and Retention

Article excerpt


The lived experiences of 12 traditionally aged underrepresented minority BSN students in a predominantly white university were explored using a qualitative, semi-structured, e-questionnaire approach. A multistep analysis procedure of the data identified barriers, including negative interactions with and lack of diversity of faculty and peers, deficiency of cultural competency training, lack of academic and financial support, and negative family behaviors. Identified facilitators include a strong desire to be a nurse, family member in the health care profession, and proximity to home. Novel findings include highly polarized responses regarding interactions with faculty and peers and the drive to be a nurse as a unique aspect of general determination.

KEYWORDS Diversity--Recruitment in Education--Retention--Minority Students--Baccalaureate Nursing Program


The growing diversity of the US population is outpacing efforts to diversify the nation's nursing workforce. Despite an approximate 25 percent increase in the minority population over the past decade, the racial composition of the nursing workforce is essentially unchanged. Although 30 percent of the population is either African American (13.6 percent) or Hispanic (16.3 percent) (Humes, Jones, & Ramirez, 2011), only 7 percent of registered nurses (RNs) identify as African American (4.9 percent) or Hispanic (2 percent) (Health Resources and Services Administration, 2010).

Nationwide, nursing education programs are not producing sufficient numbers of minority nurses to create a critical mass, which leads scholars to predict that this gap will widen (Institute of Medicine, 2004). Addressing barriers to the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority (URM) groups remains a challenge (National League for Nursing, 2009). Effective approaches to increasing racial diversity must focus on student retention, with the understanding that one's race can have a significant impact on one's experiences as a student in a school of nursing (Aiken, Cervero, & Johnson-Bailey, 2001). This case study examines the experiences of African American and Latina nursing students in and outside their nursing program and highlights the hurdles and promotive elements nested within and around nursing education that impact URM student recruitment and retention.


The study took place in a public university offering a range of nationally accredited nursing programs. The BSN student body (130 per year) was roughly 92 percent female; the nonwhite student body (17 percent) consisted of African American (3.9 percent), Latino/a (4.5 percent), Asian/Pacific Islander (4.5 percent), and multiracial (4.1 percent) students. At the time of the study, faculty were also predominantly female (90 percent) and non-Hispanic Caucasian (88 percent); 5 percent of faculty identified as African American and 7 percent identified as Asian/Pacific Islander.

Following approval by the university's institutional review board, invitations to participate in the study were emailed to junior and senior BSN students who self-identified (on their admission application) as African American or Latina. Of 40 eligible participants, 13 agreed to participate and 12 completed each of the emailed questionnaires. Participants were women ages 19 to 22; seven were African American and five were Latina; three were born outside the United States.

Participants were sent emails once weekly (with reminder emails, if needed) for five consecutive weeks requesting them to respond to a set of questions pertaining to different aspects of their lived experience, such as barriers and facilitators to recruitment and retention, experiences of racism, feeling visible/ welcomed, and perceptions of the cultural competency of faculty, peers, and curriculum. Open-ended questionnaires emailed to study participants (e-questionnaires) are widely used and considered an efficient methodology that can yield fruitful data as participants can freely offer their perspectives without the restrictions of limited answer categories (Edwards et al. …

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