The university experience : perspectives of Native American Nurses

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


Native Americans are subject to unique influences, contributing to health problems that are difficult to treat without culturally appropriate care. The most effective way to improve such care may be to recruit and retain more Native American Nurses. Many authors have written about the complex reasons that Native Americans are not adequately recruited or retained in baccalaureate programs, but few qualitative studies have focused on Native Americans in baccalaureate nursing programs, and few studies have focused on the strengths these students bring to their experience. In this phenomenological study, three indepth interviews were conducted with Native American nurses who had graduated within the past one to three years from a baccalaureate nursing program. Interviews were transcribed and submitted to phenomenological analysis, following the method of A. Giorgi. Results indicated that the nurses belonged to extensive networks of family and tribal members. They were strongly invested in maintaining their emotional bonds and meeting their obligations within these groups, particularly if they had children. Their primary difficulties in nursing school were related to being away from these nurturing groups, and meeting their obligations to them, while also meeting the obligations of school. They relied on cultural and personal strengths that enabled them to achieve their goal. Universities may be able to make relatively simple and inexpensive alterations in their nursing programs in order to ease the struggles of these students, and to enable more Native Americans to complete baccalaureate nursing degrees. Further phenomenological research regarding Native Americans who did not complete their baccalaureate degrees, mainstream nurses who attended school with children, and Native American nurses who attended school without children could add to understanding of the needs of these students, and how best to meet them.




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