Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies




Minorities in nursing -- Attitudes, Minorities in nursing -- Psychology, Nursing students -- Attitudes



Physical Description

1 online resource (4, ix, 246 p.)


This study focused on the experiences of ethnic minority nursing students at a predominately white institution, the Health Sciences University School of Nursing in an attempt to learn more about the stress, appraisal, and coping of this group of individuals. The University School of Nursing was selected as a comparison site as it offered a setting with no predominate ethnic group. Faculty•s perceptions of students stress, appraisal and coping were sought to provide a context for the students• experience. A review of the literature indicated that ethnic minority students in predominately white universities experience alienation. At some universities white and ethnic minority students and faculty differ in their perceptions of what should be offered as support to ethnic minority students. Studying the experiences of students at a health care science university, dedicated to the health and care of individuals provided useful insights. Of particular importance was the investigation of what constituted problematic and nonconstructive relationships and structures. Symbolic interactionism, socialization theory, stress, appraisal and coping theory and attribution theory offered sensitizing concepts from which 23 ethnic minority nursing student and 12 nursing faculty interviews were taped, and analyzed. A constant comparative method of qualitative analysis proposed by Glaser and Strauss offered a systematic approach in developing substantive concepts. Common to most nursing students was the phenomenon of making it in nursing school. Making it was characterized by two main categories, being out of control and gaining control. Being out-of-control was understood as the stress producing threats of conflicting demands of family, work and school and being sanctioned, the evaluation and approval by faculty of ones• professional performance. Gaining control included managing multiple demands, reaffirming ones• choice of nursing and disengaging from the student role to becoming a nurse. A set of experiences unique to ethnic minority students was identified when some aspect of ethnicity was central to the problematic experience. A core phenomenon of exclusion as a threat to identity emerged. Three forms of exclusion were identified: (1) linguistic difficulty; (2) interpersonal disregard; (3) ethno-cultural incongruity. Students 1 acceptance of responsibility for the problematic situation influenced their coping strategies. Holding back, keeping silent, disengaging and giving up were the usual coping responses. Only when the stakes were high, for example passing a course, would students speak out, negotiate or confront to in order to preserve their academic progression. Faculty accurately identified students 1 stresses as: staggering under the load, building a professional identity, experiencing isolation and facing cultural unresponsiveness. Faculty misidentified some of students 1 withdrawal coping behaviors as a cultural norm of being quiet or reserved. In addition, faculty offered descriptions of their own stress in teaching ethnic minority students with English as a second language such as trying to decide when to bend over backwards to help the students and when to draw the line. The most important conclusion reached was that ethnic minority students experienced a set of stressors linked to their perceptions of their ethnic status. A major stressor was exclusion, in that it interfered with the core task of becoming socialized as a nurse. Weak social bonds within the school of nursing and to the profession can hamper the recruitment of others from a particular ethnic group to the school and ultimately into the health care profession. A focus on the interpretation of interpersonal events in health care settings is crucial in surfacing the cultural nuances of understanding and meaning. Recommendations were made to: (1) develop an enriched grounded theory and promote mutual understanding through faculty, nursing staff and student group interviews and (2) increase the comprehensiveness of ethnic minority student retention data bases.


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