Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing



First Committee Member

Tish Smyer

Second Committee Member

Lori Candela

Third Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Fourth Committee Member

Alona Angosta

Number of Pages



Despite the unprecedented growth of minority populations in the United States, the nursing profession has remained relatively homogenous. Nursing education has increased the number of minority students entering nursing programs; however, attrition rates for minority nursing students are as high as 85% (Gilchrist & Rector, 2007). As the population grows in diversity, the need for nurses who are fluent in foreign languages and who understand minority values, traditions, and cultural practice will be essential in delivering culturally competent care. Improving the retention of minority nursing students is an important step in increasing the diversity within the nursing workforce.

Although several studies have addressed the retention of minority students, few have addressed retention from an individual-minority standpoint. Cultural competence in education requires that the unique characteristics of individuals' values and beliefs be considered. Black Africans are among the fastest growing immigrant and refugee populations in the United States, and literature relating to their experiences in nursing education in the United States is scarce. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of how black African nurses experience nursing education within the United States. Understanding how black Africans experience nursing education is the first step in identifying factors and strategies that impact the retention of this specific minority population.

A phenomenological approach using Max van Manen's (1990) six research activities guided this study. Van Manen's approach was operationalized through the use of Colaizzi's (1078) seven-step method of qualitative analysis. Guba's (1981) process was used to establish trustworthiness by addressing credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability. The question guiding this study was as follows: How do black Africans experience nursing education within the United States?

Nine black African nurses voluntarily participated in this study. Participants had all emigrated from a sub-Saharan African country, were currently working as registered nurses, and had attended a pre-licensure registered nursing program in the United States. Optimistic determination was identified as the main essence of the participants' experience. From this essence, four main themes and 13 sub-themes provided a rich description of the phenomenon. Bandura's (1997) theory of social cognitive development and Leininger's (2001) theory of nursing were used as a basis for recommendations for the creation of a culturally competent educational environment. Through this awareness, strategies may be introduced that support the retention and success of black African nursing students, and build the diversity of the nursing workforce.


College dropouts—Prevention; Immigrants--Education (Higher); Minority college students; Nursing—Education


Education | Nursing

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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