Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Kim VanDerLinden

Second Supervisor

Loretta Quigley


With an increasingly diverse U.S. general population and an increased need for nursing staff, the Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing (IOM, 2010) has called for a needed increase of racial/ethnic and gender diversity in the nursing workforce to reduce health disparities. The purpose of this study was to explore factors that influence academic success of nursing students who speak English as a second language (ESL) in Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) Programs. This qualitative, phenomenological study used semi-structured, face-to-face, individual interviews with a convenience sample of eight nursing students. Essential themes included cultural and language differences limiting learning and communication; experiences of discrimination as a barrier to success; and financial and time related barriers in addition to revealing student motivations driven by (a) a passion for caring for people and nursing as a means of providing care; (b) a goal orientation, and (c) motivation driven by desire for better life, better future, and pride. Student strategies for dealing with challenges and the stress related to program completion included taking a break, talking to family, and crying to release tension and to relax. In addition, students recommended the formation of support groups or sharing groups to support ESL nursing students toward degree completion. These results of the qualitative, phenomenological analysis offer insight into the lived experience and struggles of these nursing students and can be used to inform and highlight needed support and direction for the development of programs to support ESL nursing student persistence and completion to graduation.

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