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The Experiences of Black Nursing Alumni at a Predominantly White Institution

Gona, Clara PhD, FNP-BC; Pusey-Reid, Eleonor DNP, RN, MEd, CCRN; Lussier-Duynstee, Patricia PhD, RN; Gall, Gail PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000634
Feature Articles

Background Despite increasing minority enrollment in nursing programs, student attrition remains a persistent problem.

Purpose The purpose of this study was to describe the experiences of a diverse group of black alumni at a predominantly white institution in the United States.

Method In this qualitative descriptive study, researchers conducted focus group interviews with 16 recent graduates of accelerated baccalaureate and direct-entry nurse practitioner programs.

Results Four themes emerged as barriers to success: burden of exclusion and isolation, lack of diversity among students and faculty, struggling to find mentors, and cultural assumptions. Five themes captured the strategies alumni adopted to succeed: strength in numbers, helpful mentors, resilience, faith, and self-silencing.

Conclusion Participants experienced challenges but successfully navigated the program until they graduated. The study findings lay the groundwork for the development of programs that foster success for all students.

Author Affiliations: Assistant Professor, FNP Track Co-Coordinator (Dr Gona); Assistant Professor (Dr Pusey-Reid), Accelerated BSN Program; Assistant Dean (Dr Lussier-Duynstee), Student Services and Clinical Facilitation; and Former Faculty (Dr Gall), School of Nursing, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston, Massachusetts.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr Gona, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Charlestown Navy Yard, 36 First Ave, Boston, MA 02129 (

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Accepted for publication: November 1, 2018

Published ahead of print: December 13, 2018

Online date: December 17, 2018

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