Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

African American Nursing Students' Perceptions about Mentoring

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

African American Nursing Students' Perceptions about Mentoring

Article excerpt



Aim. This pilot study described African American nursing students' perceptions of mentoring.

Background. The number of African American nurses in the United States is far less than desired. Part of the problem is due to attrition of this student group within nursing education programs. Mentoring has been identified as a factor that contributes to academic success, yet questions about the specific characteristics of successful mentoring programs remain.

Method. A qualitative approach was used to investigate students' views about the role of a mentoring program at their respective schools of nursing. Twenty-six students participated in one semi-structured, face-to-face interview. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method to inductively review, code, and categorize data within themes.

Results. Themes that emerged included role models, tricks of the trade, feelings, and someone who looks like me.

Conclusion. Results resonate with previous research and lend support for mentoring among minority nursing students.

Key Words Mentoring - African American - Ethnic Minority - Nursing Students - Academic Success - Student Retention

LACK OF DIVERSITY AMONG BOTH FACULTY AND STUDENTS INFLUENCES RECRUITMENT OF ETHNIC MINORITIES INTO NURSING. Despite a focus on attrition and graduation rates among ethnic minority students in higher education since the 1960s, the period 2006 to 2007 saw no significant increase in the percentage of ethnic minorities graduating from pre-licensure RN programs (National League for Nursing, 2010). Lack of ethnic diversity is also evident among nursing educators.

High attrition rates among African American (AA) nursing students have been linked to lack of social connection, financial aid, and faculty support and commitment (Etowa, Foster, Vukic, Wittstock, & Youden, 2005; Hassouneh-Phillips & Beckett, 2004). Amaro, Abriam-Yago, and Yoder (2006) identified barriers that affect ethnic minority study success in undergraduate nursing programs as lack of good study habits, finances, language, home management, and prejudice. Feelings of loneliness, alienation, and isolation, and peers' lack of understanding and knowledge of cultural differences are also reported recruitment and retention barriers (Gardner, 2005a). In addition, a significant number of ethnic minority students are first-generation college students, often illprepared for nursing school due to lack of academic preparation (Nugent, Childs, Jones, & Cook, 2004).

A number of studies report mentorship as being an important factor in the success of ethnic minority nursing students (Candela, Kowalski, Cyrkiel, & Warner, 2004; Fletcher et al., 2003; Nugent et al., 2004; Sutherland, Hamilton, & Goodman, 2007; Wilson, Andrews, & Leners, 2006). The purpose of this pilot study was to describe AA nursing students' perceptions of mentoring.

Literature Review Buchanan (1999) conducted a study to determine AA nursing students' perception of mentoring. The convenience sample of 10 students identified categories of needs they felt could be met through a mentoring relationship: support and stress reduction, guidance, identification, encouragement, cultural inclusion, role models, and academic support. The categories were presented within a "mentoring pyramid" and deemed to be critical components to any mentoring program.

Gardner (2005b) reported on a retention and mentorship program that had a 100 percent retention rate among ethnic minority students. The program established a mentoring network of working minority registered nurses who acted as role models, friends, confidants, and a support system. The program included interventions to improve the integration of minority students into a supportive learning environment, assist with available resources, and help students feel supported by their peers and faculty. The program was based on Tinto's theory of student retention, which states that frequent contact with faculty is vital to student retention. …

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