Despite recent strides to increase workforce diversity, nurses continue to inadequately reflect the ethnic composition of the population they serve. To effectively answer the national calls for increased diversity in the nursing workforce, there must be a greater representation of minority students studying nursing. However, minority nursing students, especially those of Black/African American descent, have less access to nursing education, poorer retention and progression rates in nursing programs, and are more likely to withdraw from programs. The existence of an increasingly diverse nursing workforce depends upon the recruitment, retention, progression, and graduation of minority students. Whereas Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) graduate the highest percentages of Black/African American students, little is known about how Black/African American nursing students experience the completion of baccalaureate nursing programs while attending a HBCU. There is a need to understand the lived experiences of Black/African American nursing students attending a HBCU, and the factors that contribute to their successful program completion.

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to identify the unique experiences, common meanings, and shared practices of Black/African American senior nursing students’ retention and progression in a baccalaureate nursing program at a HBCU. Thirteen Black/African American senior nursing student participants from an HBCU in the eastern region of the United States were interviewed on two separate occasions: at the beginning and towards the end of their final semester before graduation. Thus, 26 in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted, analyzed, and interpreted using hermeneutic interpretive phenomenology. The meaning of participants’ lived experiences reflected five essential themes: a renewed sense of cultural identity, development of resilience in response to overwhelming stress, unrealistic expectations of nursing education, a sense of purpose in nursing, and self-reliance. These findings can assist nursing faculty to better understand factors of perseverance for student success. This understanding may be helpful in carefully reviewing how nursing programs are administering and developing proactive approaches and policies that are conducive to minority students’ holistic learning experiences, which may actually increase their numbers in the nursing workforce.

LLU Discipline





School of Nursing

First Advisor

Mamier, Iris

Second Advisor

Taylor, Elizabeth Johnston

Third Advisor

Yi, Zane

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Nursing - Study and Teaching; Education; Nursing - United States; Minority Groups; African Americans; Achievement

Subject - Local

Nursing Students; Retention; Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Workforce Diversity



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives

Included in

Nursing Commons