The relationship between marginality and undergraduate nursing students




Englund, Heather

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The fact that the nation’s healthcare professionals are not culturally concordant with the population is believed to be a more significant cause of health disparities than the lack of health insurance for millions of Americans (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], 2012). The homogeneity of the nursing profession is largely a result of the significantly higher attrition rates that minority nursing students experience when compared to non-minority students (Levesque, 2015; McDermott-Levy, 2011; Pitt, Powis, Levett-Jones, & Hunter, 2012; Shelton, 2012). Although feeling marginalized has been found to be a barrier in a number of qualitative studies, the concept has not been investigated as an independent phenomenon in nursing students.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between marginality and minority status in undergraduate nursing students enrolled at one of the four University of Wisconsin system schools that offer a baccalaureate nursing program. A non-experimental correlational descriptive design was utilized and the Koci Marginality Index-70 (KMI-70) was used to measure levels or marginalization. A total of 331 participants comprised the research sample. A series of independent-samples t-tests were conducted to evaluate differences in mean scores on the KMI-70 in relation to the demographic variables of interest. Results indicate that there was a significant difference in mean scores for minority (M = 177.5, SD= 29.3) versus non-minority students (M= 166.4, SD= 18.1); t(329)= 4.3, p < =.001.

Analysis of the data did not reveal any statistically significant differences between sexual minority (M= 178.4, SD= 33.7) and non-minority participants (M= 170.3, SD= 23.0); t(328)= -1.5, p =.112 with regard to KMI-70 scores. There was no statistically significant difference in mean scores for male participants (M=166.1, SD= 25.6) versus female participants (M=171.6, SD= 23.5); t(329)= -1.4, p= .428. Similarly, the difference in mean scores for non-traditional participants (M= 166.7, SD= 19.8) and traditional-aged participants (M=171.8, SD= 24.6) did not reach statistical significance, t(329)= 1.5, p= .111.

The results of this study suggest that more research must be done in order to glean a better understanding of the marginalization faced by minority students. Specifically, more research should be conducted in a number of areas including: 1) sampling of minority nursing students across the U.S., and from diverse educational environments such as associate degree, baccalaureate, and graduate schools; 2) the investigation of marginality in international, LGBTQ, and non-traditional students; 3) the development of a short marginality tool more specific to the realm of nursing education; and 4) further explore the individual subconcepts of marginalization that underlie the KMI-70 as they relate to the population of nursing students.



Health and environmental sciences, Attrition, Marginalization, Minority undergraduate student, Nursing education