The Role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Inclusion and Education of Hispanic Nursing Students

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Abstract: The increased diversity of the population in the United States and the rapid growth of the Hispanic community have implications for all aspects of American life including healthcare professions. Nursing education and practice have a responsibility and an obligation to educate culturally competent nurses for the healthcare delivery system. This paper discusses Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) role in assisting Hispanic students to receive a nursing education and serve their communities as registered nurses.

The demographics of the United States are undergoing significant changes. Such changes, which are increasing the diversity of the population of the United States, have implications for all aspects of American life, including the health care professions, especially nursing. Nursing education programs have a responsibility and an obligation to educate culturally competent nurses for the diversity occurring in healthcare delivery systems. Although, these demographic changes affect a variety of races and ethnicities, this paper will look at the implications for nursing education and practice as they relate to Hispanic students, because the Hispanic population is the most rapidly growing minority group in the United States (Manning & Baruth, 2004; Espinoza-Herold, 2003). The number of Hispanic students entering and completing nursing programs should reflect the growing Hispanic population. Nursing educators at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) believe that we have what is needed to assist Hispanic students to enter and successfully complete our nursing programs.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the population in the year 2000 in the United States had a 75.1% White majority. The two largest minority groups were black, making up 12.3% of the population, and Hispanic, 12.5%. The Census Bureau estimates that within the next 50 years the percentage of white inhabitants will decrease to slightly over 50%, while the largest minority groups, black and Hispanic will increase to 13.6% and 24.5% respectively (Bucher & Bucher, 2004). With the increase in minority populations in the United States, there will be a more diverse population needing health care. There should, therefore, be a concurrent growth in the percentage of minority nurses to care for and serve this diverse population. Nursing educators need to examine if our nursing schools support culturally competent nursing care, which includes the acceptance of minority nursing students.

The 2000 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses by the United States Department of Health and Human Services reports white, black and Latino/Hispanic nurses represent 86.6%, 4.9%, and 2%, respectively of registered nurses. Despite the increase of minorities in nursing practice in the last ten years this department also concedes that the representation of minority nurses among the total nurse population increased 7% in 1980 to 12% in 2000. Despite these increases the diversity of the RN population remains less than that of the general population where minority representation was more than 30% in 2000.

This need for diversity in our nursing school population is a growing concern, but it is not a new one. For many nursing faculty at an HBCU, this matter is somewhat of a deja vu experience. Historically, black schools have supported and participated in the struggle for inclusion of African American women in healthcare, and have done it well (Carnegie, 1986). Historically, black schools understand the need for representation, and have shown success in the inclusion of different minority groups and in preparing these individuals to become licensed practitioners in nursing. It is not a coincidence that other minorities besides African-Americans gravitate towards an HBCU for their nursing education. Minority students are aware of their need for special support services in order to successfully complete nursing programs and are learning the best places to go to receive these services. …