Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Jill P. Bickett

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Reilly

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Stoddard


While numerous efforts have been made across different educational contexts aimed towards increasing demographic diversity in STEM education, career decision-making content related to the potential pursuit of health professions education has failed to reach all students. Thus, there is a need for a more consistent and targeted sharing of information, including from the graduate level (where students must meet detailed requirements for specific healthcare disciplines), down to the community college and high school levels where students often make life-changing career-direction decisions without sufficient information to inform these decisions. At the other end of the spectrum, the conventional learning experiences in graduate health professions education have failed to adequately adapt to the expanding diversity of the patients they serve or to emphasize the depth and unique insight that students of color can bring to patients, their communities, and to the health professions classroom (Warshaw, 2016).

In this context, this dissertation seeks to understand the experiences of a sample of Black women who have successfully entered or completed a graduate health professions degree program. Using a qualitative methodology, this study will explore and identify factors that first influenced their exploration into a health professions field, what barriers they overcame in their educational process, and how these experiences and meaning can be used by educational leaders wishing to improve access and inclusion for health professions education in the future.