Recruiting and Retaining Minorities in Nursing Education

Article excerpt

Abstract: Increasing nursing education opportunities for individuals from minority and/or disadvantaged backgrounds is the purpose of this project. Activities included the implementation of programs to enhance preentry retention, cultural competence and financial support. Intense recruitment strategies were targeted to seniors from high schools in Macon County and contiguous counties, the counties where most students currently enrolled at Tuskegee reside. The target population also included health majors in some of Alabama's historic black universities. Faculty cultural development workshops were conducted in the areas of self-assessment of cultural competency, and the influence of culture on student learning and teaching strategies. Quantitative and qualitative data were used to evaluate the outcomes of this project. As a result of these activities; enrollment has increased 150%, and the retention rate between the pre-professional (freshman/sophomore levels) and professional phase has increased. Additionally, the informal and formal data collected through the implementation of project's activities revealed psychosocial and health-related problems that could have an impact on students' ability to learn and to realize economic and career goals.

Key Words: Recruitment, Retention, Minority, Nursing, Diversity

Tuskegee University (TU) is located in rural Tuskegee, in Macon County, Alabama. It is a historically black university (founded in 1881) and from inception has provided educational opportunities for disadvantaged students. Like many historical black colleges and universities (HBCUs), TU admits a large number of First Generation college students whose academic background, by traditional admissions criteria, are deficient when compared to those admitted to historically white institutions. TU enrolls 3200 students from 46 states and 24 foreign countries, though students from Alabama form the largest percentage of the student body. The poverty rate in Alabama is 17.4%; the state's per capita is $18,010.00.

The project's aim was to increase nursing education opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities, who are underrepresented among registered nurses. The project would provide pre-entry preparation, retention activities and financial support for potential and enrolled students. This project got support under the Nursing workforce Diversity Program and therefore included increased access to a culturally competent and sensitive nursing workforce as an outcome objective. The objectives are:

(1) To increase the number of students from minority and/or disadvantaged backgrounds by at least ten students per year;

(2) To increase the retention rate of nursing students to a level of at least 70% within three years;

(3) To increase the acceptance rate of applicants;

(4) To provide financial support through scholarships and monthly stipends; and

(5) To enhance cultural content throughout the curriculum.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Two-thirds of Alabama is designated as rural. A survey of the 40,000 registered nurses in Alabama indicated 15% were ethnic minorities; African Americans constituted 13% of the total (Lazarus, 2001). At the state level, the project would increase the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in Alabama. At the national level the project would raise the percentage of minorities in the national nursing workforce, increasing cultural diversity as well as the number of nurses educated to be culturally sensitive practitioners.

Despite their small numbers in the health professions, Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans are crucial providers of care for the nation's burgeoning minority communities, as well as its poor populations, according to research published by the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP) in November, 2001. The under-representation of minorities in nursing education perpetuates the underrepresentation of minorities in the nursing workforce. …