All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Laura L Forbes

Advisory Committee Members

Phillip L Barkley

Elizabeth A Elliott

Retta R Evans

Jenna M Lachenaye

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


ABSTRACT College health nurses (CHNs) play an essential role in student health services where they address a myriad of students’ health concerns. The purpose of this study was to gain an in-depth understanding of the CHNs’ perception of their role in nursing practice. The study focused on hearing nurses’ perspectives on what they considered their role to be in college health (CH) practice, and the challenges encountered in their role performance. This qualitative study utilized a phenomenological design to explore the lived experience of the CHN. The study comprised of 11 CHNs currently employed in five 4-year universities across a southeastern state. Interviews were the primary mode of data collection. Through the interviews, rich, in-depth descriptions of CHNs’ perceptions were gathered. Data analysis resulted in six themes capturing the lived experience of the CHN. The study discovered that CHNs occupy a unique niche in nursing practice. In the college health environment, CHNs have institutional role expectations in addition to their professional role expectations. Study participants identified a lack of voice in the decision-making process, understaffing, low wages, increased workloads, conflicts with parents, and student’s negative attitudes as challenges encountered in college health nursing practice. The benefits of college health nursing practice were identified as the unique campus setting, working with a predominantly healthy population, opportunities to teach life skills and being the fill-in parent. The findings of this study provide implications for nursing practice and curriculum development along with recommendations for future research. This study will add new knowledge to the limited literature on college health nursing practice. In addition, the study may help identify factors contributing to role stress, role strain and role overload. The study may help develop strategies to prevent job dissatisfaction and burnout.

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