Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Bring Diversity to Nursing: Recruitment, Retention, and Graduation of Nursing Students

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Bring Diversity to Nursing: Recruitment, Retention, and Graduation of Nursing Students

Article excerpt

Abstract: Despite modest gains in ethnic and racial minority representation in the nursing profession, the current nursing workforce does not mirror the U.S. population. Efforts to increase and maintain baccalaureate-prepared minority nurses to begin to reflect the diverse population needing culturally responsive, high quality care is a continuing goal of nursing education and practice. Because of this, initiatives focusing on increasing ethnic and cultural diversity of healthcare workers are of high priority. The Bring Diversity to Nursing (BDN) project describes the University of Massachusetts Lowell's success at pre-entry, retention, and graduation of minority and educationally and economically disadvantaged students. The resultant graduation and practice of BDN students as professional nurses can contribute to addressing health care needs and reducing health disparities in the Lowell and Lawrence communities and beyond.

Key Words: Diversity, Pre-entry Recruitment, Nursing Student Retention, Economically Disadvantaged, Educationally Disadvantaged, Health Disparities, Culturally Competent Care, Baccalaureate Nurses, Nursing Education

There is a clear link between lack of diversity in the nursing workforce and nursing's ability to effectively address health disparities with high-quality, culturally competent care (AACN, 2011; Huston, 2008). Efforts to increase and maintain baccalaureate-prepared minority nurses to begin to reflect the diverse population needing culturally responsive, high quality care is a continuing goal of nursing education and practice. Because of this, initiatives focusing on increasing ethnic and cultural diversity of healthcare workers are of high priority. Despite modest gains in ethnic and racial minority representation in the nursing profession, the current nursing workforce does not mirror the U.S. population. Attempts to recruit, retain and graduate a diverse cadre of professional nurses remain a goal for nurse educators and nursing programs. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) (2009) has identified the need to "attract students from underrepresented groups in nursing - specifically men and individuals from African American, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian and Alaskan native backgrounds" (p. 1). To address this critical need, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Bureau of Health Professions, Division of Nursing, provided federal funding for Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD) grants to colleges and universities. The purpose of tne NWD program is to provide funding for projects to increase nursing education opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds through three major components: Pre-Entry Preparation, Retention, and Student Scholarships and /or Stipends.

In July 2008, the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) Department of Nursing received funding from the Bureau of Health Professions to support the Bring Diversity to Nursing (BDN) project. This funding, coupled witn funding from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), Reducing Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities: Workforce Development grant 20072010, allowed the Nursing Program to begin to address the needs in the northeast area of Massachusetts known as the Merrimack Valley.

UML is located in tne Merrimack Valley where the two largest cities are Lowell and Lawrence. These cities are culturally diverse and have Hispanic and/or Asian populations that are disproportionately higher than the state levels. Both socioeconomic and health disparities exist in Lowell and Lawrence. The city of Lowell has an estimated population of 98,766 with a growing number of individuals of Asian and Hispanic backgrounds. Twenty-four percent were not born in the U.S., and 17.5% of all persons in Lowell live below the poverty level, compared to 13% statewide (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006-2008a). The city of Lawrence has a population of 71,234. It, too, is an ethnically diverse city with a primarily Hispanic background representing nearly 71% of the population, ana 34. …

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