Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Nursing and Allied Health Professions

First Advisor

Susan G. Poorman, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Theresa Gropelli, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michele Gerwick, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Melissa L. Mastorovich, DNP


This qualitative study sought to understand the phenomenon of graduate nurses (GN) who have failed the NCLEX-RN® multiple times. As the American population ages and the nursing workforce ages, the need for Registered Nurses (RN) increases. An aging nursing workforce may lead to a RN shortage in the future. Understanding the lived experience of the GNs who have failed the NCLEX-RN® multiple times could assist with supplying RNs to meet the demand. This study used Hermeneutical phenomenology as influenced by Heidegger. Phenomenology describes carefully all that is hidden in any act of consciousness. To gain understanding of the phenomenon, nine participants were interviewed and their stories were analyzed using Hermeneutical analysis. Three significant themes were identified. The themes identified included blaming, being alone and needing support, and questioning. The themes revealed in this study suggest a need for assistance. After failing the NCLEX-RN®, the GNs felt abandoned and alone. They blamed not only themselves but the nursing program and nursing faculty members. They believed that they were not prepared sufficiently to be successful on the NCLEX-RN®. Implications and conclusions discussed included careful implementation and use of standardized testing packages (STP) by nursing programs, the need for pre-graduation identification of at-risk students and assistance, and the need for post-graduation assistance for the GNs who fail the NCLEX-RN®. The GNs who fail the NCLEX-RN® may need assistance to become successful.