The experiences of indigenous nursing students: a phenomenological study

Masters Thesis

Henschke, Kim. 2017. The experiences of indigenous nursing students: a phenomenological study. Masters Thesis Master of Science (Research). University of Southern Queensland.

The experiences of indigenous nursing students: a phenomenological study

TypeMasters Thesis
AuthorHenschke, Kim
SupervisorKelly, Jennifer
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameMaster of Science (Research)
Number of Pages100
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Australian Indigenous people have serious health concerns and are more likely to die younger and experience chronic illness such as diabetes, cardiac disease and renal failure (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010). As a result, the e G March 2008 following the social justice report of 2005, with an aim to achieve Indigenous health equality within 25 years (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner 2005). Increase the number of Indigenous people in the healthcare sector (West, Usher, & Foster, 2010a). However, there continues to be an imbalance in the health care sector whereby there is a low representation of Indigenous nurses compared to non- Indigenous nurses (Best & Stuart, 2014).

Although enrolments may have increased in tertiary institutions, the attrition and completion rates for Indigenous students continues to be low. For instance, approximately only one third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students complete nursing degrees, compared with two-thirds of non-Indigenous students (Alford, 2015). It is acknowledged that low completion rates are not indicative of the efforts that have been made to assist Indigenous people progress and achieve at university. Strategies such as Indigenous Support Units have been implemented in all universities in Australia in addition to other processes (Pechenkina, 2014).

The research presented in this thesis is an exploration into the experiences of a group of Indigenous nursing students. The purpose of this study was to gain insight strategies to improve retention, attrition and completion rates. Phenomenology was employed as the methodology and findings from this research aim to provide evidence to assist with the development of processes to effectively manage the university experience for Indigenous students. The aim of this research was to use experiences of the participants. The experiences of the participants were deemed significant and relevant to the development of strategies to enhance the experiences of future Indigenous nursing students in order to contribute to their success. Overall, the goal of this study is to improve the education experiences of Indigenous nursing students to build an Indigenous workforce for the future.

Key findings indicated a mismatch between commencement numbers of Indigenous nursing students and the completion of tertiary study by Indigenous nursing students. Research to date has been largely quantitative with very little qualitative data documented. Therefore, this study provides the qualitative data that is absent in the literature surrounding the experiences of a group of Indigenous nursing experiences at University. This study concluded that a common thread existed between the Indigenous nursing students involved in this study such as misperceptions, feeling different and internal conflict. However, there were many similarities identified in relation to the experiences of Indigenous nursing students and non-Indigenous nursing students such as knowledge limitations, lack of study skills, family demands and commitments, financial restraints and time management which impact on tertiary study at university.

KeywordsIndigenous people; Closing the Gap; nursing students
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020420599. Nursing not elsewhere classified
Byline AffiliationsFaculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
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