Date of Conferral







Donna Bailey


The state of education in the United States faces many challenges in preparing students for the workforce and postsecondary education. These challenges are heightened at the postsecondary level for schools of nursing. The current shortage of nurses will continue to rise if recruitment and retention strategies are not employed. The purpose of this qualitative hermeneutic phenomenological study was to understand and explore the experiences of former health science program students enrolled in nursing school. Research questions focused on the experience of career and technical education (CTE), motives and perceived benefits of CTE, nursing experience, career choice, and academic interests. The theoretical framework for this study was based on Lent, Brown, and Hackett's social cognitive career theory. Data were collected through semistructured face-to-face interviews with 6 associate and bachelor degree nursing students in South Carolina that completed CTE health science courses in high school. Data were manually coded and analyzed. The findings of the study indicated that CTE health science program experiences were positive and provided early college preparation and career opportunities. Furthermore, findings indicated that collaborative efforts between secondary, postsecondary, and nursing stakeholders are needed. This study has implications for positive social change by providing information to stakeholders in education about CTE, bridge programs, and secondary-postsecondary partnerships that may lead to a solution for the shortage of nurses.