Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

John Johnson

Abstract

Nursing schools struggle to prepare enough nurses to meet the health care needs of a diverse and aging population in the United States. Many students do not complete their degrees, contributing to the problem. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore and describe how successful Latina students experience and respond to the academic challenges of prerequisite nursing courses. The nursing shortage; healthcare needs of Hispanic patients; student outcomes; self-efficacy, achievement goal orientation, and academic help-seeking; and Hispanic cultural values framed the study. Using semistructured private interviews, the researcher explored the lived experiences of 6 successful Latina students when they encountered challenges in prerequisite nursing courses. Seven superordinate themes emerged following interpretative phenomenological analysis of the data: (a) facing academic challenges, (b) recognizing emotional response, (c) seeking help, (d) transcending academic challenges, (e) owning knowledge, (f) persevering, and (g) living out values and beliefs. The hermeneutic approach allowed participants to describe the transition from avoiding to reaching out for help. Conclusions and recommendations include the need for faculty to recognize and respond to the importance of family, relationships, values, and beliefs to academic success in Latina students. Implications for social change include enhanced faculty ability to support the academic endeavors of this population. Improved graduation rates in Latina nursing students will help to address the nursing shortage and the need for a health care workforce that mirrors the population of the United States.