Using Photos to Improve the College Experience of Indigenous BSN Students

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2023-04

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Purpose: To improve the enrollment, retention, and well-being of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students pursuing degrees in nursing through an environmental intervention to reduce cultural mismatch and highlight AI/AN nurses through history. Background: Enrollment of American Indian students in higher education has historically been low. Currently, around 19% of American Indian students enroll in college, while 42% of white students enroll. The population is affected by this lack of education by having the highest poverty rates of any race group. Of the 19% of American Indian students that enroll in college, only a small number graduate. Dropout rates are high among native students due to cultural mismatch, finances, and a lack of representation and cultural understanding at their universities. It is important to explore a variety of environmental approaches to address the obstacles to AI/AN students completion of the 4-year degree. Methods: The display will be in a location that nursing students will pass by frequently, which will help foster a sense of belonging among AI/AN students. Results: Copyright for photos of the nurses will be gained for educational purposes, and the photos will be displayed in the building that houses the Mark & Robyn Jones College of Nursing. Photos in the display will include nurses Elizabeth Sadoques (Abenaki), Virginia Rosebud Sneed Dixon (Cherokee), and Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail (Apsáalooke/Crow), among others. This project is a part of the (Caring for Our Own Program, which has been successful in increasing the enrollment and retention of AI/AN students. The goal of this project will be to continue to increase enrollment and retention but also to improve the well-being of AI/AN students, and then AI/AN communities. Implications: Most native students come from one of the seven American Indian reservations in Montana, and when they graduate, many will return to their communities for their careers. When the students serve their community through nursing, they also serve as role models for younger generations. This will likely encourage children to pursue nursing in college, increasing enrollment. Because they have role models from their communities, these students will likely graduate, increasing retention. Putting up the display is a relatively short-term project, but the effects will be long-lasting.

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