Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Dr. Joshua M. Fegley

Second Supervisor

Dr. Kathleen H. Dever


The purpose of this study is to fill a gap in the literature for the role of motivation in adult learners in post-secondary practical nursing programs. While literature exists on supporting traditional learners in nursing programs at the college and university levels, research lacked on the motivations, barriers, and support provided to adult learners in practical nursing programs. This study contributes to literature and fills that gap by exploring the lived experiences of these adult learners using the self-determination theory and hermeneutic phenomenology to explore these motivations, perceived barriers, and needed support. This was accomplished using semi-structured interviews with seven graduates from a post-secondary practical nursing program located in the Western New York region. Overall, the participants described the positive experience graduating from a practical nursing program and the opportunities that it provided from a personal and professional standpoint. The participants provided a holistic view of their lives before, during, and after completion of the program. As a result of this rich data and open discussions, a three-phase framework was developed. These phases include the lived experiences of the adult learners before, during, and after program completion. These findings suggest a need for development of supportive resources in practical nursing programs for adult learners to navigate these experiences successfully. With successful program completion and licensure, these individuals can enhance their socioeconomic status and provide communities with a qualified healthcare workforce creating positive health outcomes.

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