Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Nursing candidates' overall goal is to become a professional nurse. To reach this goal, the student must graduate from an associate or baccalaureate nursing program and pass the state board, National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Student retention in nursing programs and passing the NCLEX continue to be a problem for educational institutions throughout the United States. The purpose of this study was to examine nursing candidates' perceptions of their greatest challenges in becoming a professional nurse. Wenger's social learning systems and the community of practice comprised the conceptual framework that guided this study. The research questions pertained to nursing students' perceptions regarding the greatest challenges of becoming a professional nurse, strategies that could have helped the students, and the challenges that could be addressed by the nursing program. For this qualitative case study, nursing students from a second year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program and nursing students in their last semester of a License Practical Nurse (LPN) program in North Georgia were asked to participate by attending focus group interviews. Twelve of the second year ADN program students volunteered to participate and 5 of the students in the last semester of the LPN program volunteered to participate. The data was collected from focus group interviews, and an inductive process was done for the data analysis. The findings revealed four challenges to becoming a professional nurse: family/relationship, lack of time, curriculum, and prior knowledge or skill. Insights from the analysis may enhance the institutions' understanding of the barriers faced by nursing students in North Georgia, the nursing program, the nursing profession, and help develop strategies to identify and support at-risk students.