DOI: 10.1177/10784535231216465 ISSN: 1078-4535

Culturally Safe Mentoring for American Indian Nursing Students

Michelle Kahn-John, Regina Eddie, Anna Slaven
  • General Nursing

Being the least-represented ethnic/racial group in college settings, American Indian students may experience loneliness and self-doubt related to the challenges of adapting to an environment that embodies values, norms, and culture so different from those represented in their traditional culture. Ongoing health disparities and psychosocial inequities, and persisting impacts of historical colonization, have led to additional hardships for these students that further complicate their academic experiences. Fostering culturally safe learning environments where compassionate and caring faculty provide culturally aligned teaching is important in addressing these complex disparities. Derived from American Indian values and teachings, we present a culturally safe intergenerational mentoring approach that emphasizes the nursing mentors’ responsibility to support the growth and success of American Indian nursing students. This approach, drawn from the wisdom of American Indian teachings, focuses on students’ strengths and culturally based protective factors. Culturally informed faculty who are aware of the historical impacts of colonization and who have adequate mentoring capacity (time, interest, and commitment) contribute to safe and effective learning environments. Culturally safe mentoring is one approach to promoting American Indian students’ potential for academic and professional success.

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