Tina Thornton

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Tsu-Yin Wu, PhD, RN, FAAN

Committee Member

Michael Williams, PhD, RN, CCRN, CNEO

Committee Member

Jennifer Kellman-Fritz, PhD

Committee Member

Andrea Gossett- Zakrajsek, OTD


Incorporating gender diversity into a collaborative practice environment among healthcare professionals and patients is necessary to provide quality care for the complex healthcare population that we serve. Nursing, social work, and occupational therapy have been known to be predominantly female occupations. There are many benefits of including males in these occupations to produce a more diverse workforce supporting positive patient care outcomes and delivery services. There are, however, education, and social barriers to male students within these health science programs. Evidence has shown that social support is an effective mechanism for managing the effects of stress, promoting positive self-esteem, and enhancing psychological stability and academic success. What is not clear from the current literature is how perceptions of social support are related to academic success among male students in female-dominated healthcare professions. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of perceived social support of family, peers, faculty, and role model/mentors, and academic success among male nursing, social work, and occupational therapy students. The results found that there was a significant positive correlation between family support and GPA among the three academic programs. Correlations between peer, faculty, and role model/mentor support were not significant. The importance of family, peer, faculty, and role model/mentor social support were also examined between groups. Differences were noted between the academic programs and importance of family support. In addition, although not statistically significant, the males in all three academic programs identified faculty support as very important. The importance of peer, overall role model/mentor, and same

gender role model/mentor support were not statistically significant. Among demographic differences, non-married male students found peer support as a significant source of support, non-first-generation students identified family as a source of support, and White students identified the importance of peer support. These results indicate that perceived social support can have positive outcomes for male students within these female dominated healthcare professions.

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