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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 9, 2023

“You have to strive very hard to prove yourself”: experiences of Black nursing students in a Western Canadian province

  • Florence Luhanga ORCID logo EMAIL logo , Sithokozile Maposa ORCID logo , Vivian Puplampu ORCID logo , Eunice Abudu ORCID logo and Irene Chigbogu ORCID logo



This study explored the experiences of Black students in two western Canadian undergraduate nursing programs.


Using a qualitative focused ethnography design grounded in critical race theory and intersectionality, participants were recruited using purposive and snowball sampling. Data were collected through individual interviews, and a follow-up focus group. Data were analyzed using collaborative-thematic analysis team approaches.


n=18 current and former students participated. Five themes emerged: systemic racism in nursing, precarious immigrant context, mental health/well-being concerns, coping mechanisms, and suggestions for improvement.


An improved understanding of Black student experiences can inform their recruitment and retention. Supporting Black students’ success can potentially improve equity, diversity, and inclusivity in nursing education programs and/or their representation in the Canadian nursing workforce.

Implications for an international audience

The presence of a diverse nursing profession is imperative to meet the needs to provide more quality and culturally competent services to diverse population.

Corresponding author: Dr. Florence Luhanga, RN, BEd, MEd, PhD, Associate Professor & Interim Associate Dean (Graduate Studies & Research), School of Nursing, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Regina campus, Regina, SK, Phone: +1 306 337 8480, E-mail:

Funding source: Humanities Research Institute at the University of Regina

Award Identifier / Grant number: HRI-Research Fellowship 2021–2022


We thank the Black nursing students/nurse for their participation, and community organizations for their assistance with recruitment.

  1. Research funding: Seed funding was provided by the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Regina.

  2. Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.

  3. Competing interests: Authors state no competing of interest.

  4. Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individuals included in this study.

  5. Ethical approval: The University of Regina Ethics Board granted ethics approval for this project. The project number is REB ID# 2021-127.


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Received: 2022-08-29
Accepted: 2023-04-20
Published Online: 2023-06-09

© 2023 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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