Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Promoting Quality Care by Increasing the Diversity of the Professional Nursing Workforce

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Promoting Quality Care by Increasing the Diversity of the Professional Nursing Workforce

Article excerpt

Over the next ten years the United States faces a critical challenge in providing well educated registered nurses for its people. Specifically, in the next five years, over 1.2 million new registered nurses will be needed to meet the health care needs of the people in the United States (Bureau of Health Professions, 2007). This need for registered nurses will continue to increase in the future. For example, the Bureau of Health Professions (2009) reports that by the year 2020, the United States will need over 2.8 million registered nurses that are employed fulltime in healthcare.

Although the nursing shortage deserves urgent attention, the shortage of registered nurses from ethnic racial backgrounds is more critical. As illustration, the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses indicates that African Americans represent 4.2 percent of registered nurses, compared to 1.7 percent of Hispanics, 3.1 percent of Asian/Native Hawaiian and .3 percent of Native American Indian/ Alaska Native registered nurses (Bureau of Health Professions, 2004). Indeed, as the non-white population grows in the United States, the professional nursing workforce needs to mirror its people to strengthen access and quality of care for persons from ethnically diverse backgrounds. This documented need is evident in recent population growth reports. For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2008), the total ethnic racial minority population was approximately 102.5 million in 2007. In addition, California, Texas, the District of Columbia, New Mexico and Hawaii currently have minority populations that exceed the white population.

The Sullivan Commission's Report on the Diversity in the Healthcare Workforce suggests that increasing the diversity of healthcare professionals will profoundly improve the quality of healthcare for ethnic racial minorities who experience the greatest disparities in health outcomes (Sullivan Commission, 2004). …

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