Date of Award

August 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Kim Litwack

Committee Members

Andy Tracy, Gwat-Yong Lie, Kay Jansen, Dora Clayton-Jones


first generation, low income, nursing, retention, students, underrepresented


The responsibility for graduating students is a school responsibility. A large urban Midwestern research university created the Nursing Endeavor Program (NEP) to ensure that students from underserved minorities, first generation, and/or low income are enabled to graduate successfully. There is a 100% retention rate for the period from admission to the nursing major in the junior year; however, in the pre-nursing years, the retention rate is only 50%. The role transition from pre-nursing student to student nurse can be challenging and stressful. A qualitative phenomenographic research approach was utilized to identify the factors facilitating and the factors hindering this transition.

Online and telephonic recruitment, with face-to-face interviewing techniques, was utilized to sample students who had previously been in the NEP (11 students who stayed in the program and 8 students who stopped out of the program) to identify facilitating or hindering factors. Nine of the 10 interventions that had been part of the NEP were successful in facilitating the students’ transitions. Three factors were found that hindered pre-nursing transitions—academic rigor, isolation, and living at home. One factor not named by any of the students in the NEP was that of attendance at professional events.

This study has implications for nursing programs, as interventions based on Jeffreys’ evidence-based practice recommendations and part of the NEP were given credit for the successful transitions by both groups of NEP students. Additionally, the factor of attending professional events was not named as a major factor facilitating or hindering students. This study reinforces the need for this type of program and specifies areas for further intervention to assist in successful role transition and to guide future research.