You are here:

An evaluation of a reservation-based baccalaureate nursing program

, Northern Arizona University, United States

Northern Arizona University . Awarded


Technological advances and widespread access have fostered the expansion of distance education to place-bound residents of rural areas remote from academic centers, including American Indian residents of rural reservations. There is also a growing shortage of nurses across the United States, with acute shortages of minority nurses and nurses working in rural settings. A unique reservation-based baccalaureate nursing program (RBNP) was developed to help address the shortage of American Indian nurses. This study is a formative evaluation of that program.

Program inception, implementation, efficacy, processes, experiences and outcomes of the program were examined. Internal documents were reviewed, facilities visited, and stakeholders (faculty, program graduates and students) interviewed. The primary evaluator and a reviewer external to the project analyzed duplicate data sets.

The process of earning the baccalaureate nursing degree from a distance involves academic, financial, personal, and family preparation for making the transition into a professional role. Distance education involves adapting and accommodating both faculty and student approaches to teaching and learning. Travel is not eliminated by distance education, but involves costs of money, time, and safety risks. The experience of earning the nursing degree from a distance also involves connection between faculty and classmates working together. Past and present students in the RBNP cited family, faculty, peer and financial support as important to their success. Inadequate advisement, access to learning resources, technical barriers in television classes, and perceived differences from main campus classmates' have caused students to perceive the RBNP as “marginalized.” Family and financial stresses, academic, clinical, and faculty demands, travel, professional role development, time constraints, and difficulties negotiating the university's complexities all combine to make the program experience “very hard.” About half of the 24 RBNP graduates are licensed, practicing as nurses, and advancing in the profession. Experiences in health care settings serving American Indian people offer examples of their contributions.

Findings are consistent with distance education studies and reports of American Indian experiences in nursing and higher education. Implications for distance education of health professions' students and nursing education for American Indians are addressed. Suggestions are offered for additional research and evaluation of distance education programs.


Doshier, S.B. An evaluation of a reservation-based baccalaureate nursing program. Ph.D. thesis, Northern Arizona University. Retrieved March 27, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

For copies of dissertations and theses: (800) 521-0600/(734) 761-4700 or