Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science


diversity, ethnicity, Lived experience, nurse-patient relationship, nursing, Phenomenology


This study explored the phenomenon of nurses' lived experiences while interacting with clients who were ethnically dissimilar to themselves in a variety of nursing care settings including acute care, ambulatory care and public health. This study is timely, especially in the county in which the study was conducted because of the ongoing influx of legal and illegal immigrants from diverse foreign geographic locales. Van Kaam's method for conducting phenomenological studies was employed for data gathering, categorizing and analyzing. Categories were stated in terms of perceptions and feelings. The most frequently stated perceptual moments included perceiving client ethnicities based on physical characteristics, language fluency, beliefs and practices, and presumptive clues such as address or surname. Nurses also drew conclusions about their clients' ethnicities based on past, personal experiences. At the emotional level, there emerged a blend of both pleasant and difficult feelings. Nurses described experiencing feelings of heightened awareness, empathy and compassion toward their patients. There were also moments when, even in light of language difficulties, the nurses felt accepted and trusted by the careseekers. Others experienced feelings of triumph, satisfaction and reward. The pleasant emotions were at times tempered by feelings of inadequacy, frustration, anger and pressured by time constraints. For some participants, the experience of "being discriminated against" by clients was described. As a result of the information emerging from this study, a synthetic description of the phenomenon was composed. The study included tape-recorded interviews with fifteen nurses who were themselves members of diverse ethnicities. An interview guide was prepared and utilized to assist the volunteers in recalling the most memorable interactions in which they were not members of the patient's ethnicity. These participants were chosen through a snowball sampling approach. All measures were taken to insure the confidentiality of the nurses and their clients and to maintain trustworthiness, dependability, confirmability, subjectivity, accuracy and truth. Although phenomenological findings are not generalized beyond the study participants, insight can be gained into the meaningfulness of nurses' experiences which provide additional research questions and implications for nursing practice, education and research.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons