The experience of Aboriginal nursing students at the University of Saskatchewan
Leslie, Mary E.(Bunny)
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In response to the changing demographics in North America, nursing educators have attempted to recruit students from minority cultures. However, attrition rates for minority students are high, which represents significant losses to universities and colleges and to the profession of nursing, in addition to the personal losses to the students. In the province of Saskatchewan, effort has been directed towards increasing the number of health care providers who are Aboriginal so that more culturally appropriate care is available to a growing Aboriginal population. This qualitative study exploring the experience of Aboriginal nursing students at the University of Saskatchewan was undertaken to identify factors that affected students' learning and ultimately to suggest possible strategies to improve completion rates. Five Aboriginal nursing students and three recent graduates of the baccalaureate program at the University of Saskatchewan agreed to take part in the study. The participants were interviewed once individually. Three participants were interviewed for a second time as a group, to explore some themes more fully. Participants identified three main factors that influenced their learning: relationships with their families, their classmates and their teachers; certain aspects of the teaching-learning process; and some difficulties arising from being a university student, and more specifically a nursing student. For teachers of Aboriginal nursing students, the findings suggest a range of possible strategies, which could both help enhance students' learning experience and improve retention statistics.