African-American Non-Nursing Science Majors' Perceptions of Nursing in the Context of Career Ideals

Monday, 9 November 2015: 10:20 AM

Robbi K. Alexander, MSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC
Cynthia A. Diefenbeck, PsyD, MSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC
School of Nursing, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA

The racial/ethnic distribution of the Registered Nurse (RN) workforce (African Americans 5.4%) differs substantially from the United States population (African Americans 13.1%).  It has been suggested that a career in nursing is not the path to upward social and professional mobility that it once was for African American women.  Researchers suggest that views students hold about nursing as a career option contribute to the lack of RN workforce diversity.  Much of the nursing education literature that addresses nursing students from underrepresented minority groups focuses on the recruitment, support and retention of disadvantaged and academically underprepared students.  This qualitative descriptive study was designed to explore the career behaviors of African American undergraduate non-nursing science majors and describe their perceptions about the nursing profession and the desirability of a nursing career for themselves.  The results of this study indicate that for this group of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) oriented African American non-nursing science majors, the most desirable careers are those that afford one the power to, (a) live and work with a high degree of choice an autonomy, (b) help others and personally affect change, (c) be a positive role model of African American culture and (d) disprove negative stereotypes about African Americans.  Strategies to recruit students from this underrepresented racial/ethnic group to nursing should include those which improve the visibility of the profession, highlight APN and leadership roles, and demonstrate the profession's power to affect change.