Challenges faced by Indigenous nursing students and strategies that aided their progress in the course: A descriptive study


Marked improvements in Indigenous health can be achieved by increasing the participation of Indigenous people in the health professions. Currently in Australia the participation by Indigenous people in the health professions is low and the Indigenous people of Australia continue to have poor health outcomes.

This qualitative study utilised interviews with 22 Indigenous students enrolled in undergraduate nursing degrees across Australia, to explore the challenges they faced and uncover the strategies they had found helpful to their progress in the course.

The findings indicate that students are challenged by financial hardship, staff insensitivity to cultural issues, discrimination, lack of Indigenous mentors, poor study skills, lack of adequate educational preparation, lack of resources, and ongoing family commitments. Strategies identified as particularly helpful to tenure within the course include specific Indigenous support units, adequate financial support, interested academics, Aboriginal Tertiary Assistance Scheme (ATAS) tutors, support from family and friends, and support from other students.


Kim Usher
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition, James Cook University, Cairns QLD

David Lindsay
School of Nursing Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville QLD

Maria Miller
Department Professional Nursing, Australian Catholic University, Mercy Campus, VIC

Adrian Miller
School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville QLD


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Indigenous nurses; retention; Indigenous health; undergraduate nursing education; qualitative research


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