Abstract: According to Bednash (2000), the future of health care pivots on an adequate supply of appropriately educated and skilled professional registered nurses. Recognizing the long history of and the struggles by African-American (AA) nurses for education and equality in the nursing profession, it is essential that more African-American students be recruited, retained, and matriculated into the profession of nursing. African-American nurses have always contributed to the care of the poor and the sick and played a decisive role in the improvement of the health of their communities. The Bureau of Health Professions Division of nursing (March 2000) reported that 86.6 percent of the registered nurse population were white while 12.3 percent represented racial and ethnic minority groups. Given the current racial/ethnic background of the registered nurse population in the United States, there is an obvious disparity in the representation of minorities in the nursing profession, in spite of the increasing number of minorities represented in the general population. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to document strategies that are used to actively recruit, retain, and graduate ethnic minority students from the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) School of Nursing (SON).
Key Words: African-Americans, Black, ethnic minorities, School of Nursing (SON), recruitment, retention, matriculation, and nursing faculty
African-American (AA) nurses have a long history of contributing to the care of the poor and sick, improving the health within their communities, and advocating for those of whom they serve. Similarly, they have struggled in the fight for their own rights regarding nursing education and equality within the profession. The plight of AA nurses is echoed in the words of Shelby Steele, "Opportunity follows struggle, effort, and hard work." Hence, the plight of the AA nurse dates back to nursing pioneers such as Mary Mahoney, Martha Franklin and Adah Belle Samuels Thorns.
Mahoney was the first Black professional nurse in America (Minutes of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN), 1911). She is considered the first role model for and the matriarch of Black professional nurses. Franklin was the first nurse to actively campaign for racial equality in nursing and was the founder, organizer, and first president of the NACGN (Minutes of the NACGN 1908). Thorns challenged the U.S. Army and the American Red Cross regarding their refusal to accept Black nurses during World War I and is credited with writing Pathfinders, the first classical text about the plight of Black nurses (Davis, 1999).
Nursing cornerstones as these have passed a rich legacy to all nurses, especially, to AA nurses. Credited with being strong proponents of a more stringent academic preparation and for raising the bar of entry-level education of all nurses, Mahoney, Franklin, and Thorns improved the quality of nursing education for Black women. In addition, these three (3) nursing leaders organized to eradicate discrimination within the nursing profession, provided leadership, and produced leaders within the ranks of Black nurses by fostering feminism, encouraging Black women to consider nursing as a career, and serving as unique representations of Black women trying to enter what had been historically coined "a White woman's world-the profession of trained nurses" (Davis, 1999). As such, the AA nursing faculty at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) School of Nursing (SON) will share strategies that are used to actively recruit, retain, and graduate ethnic minority students into the profession of nursing.
In Mississippi, there are seven (7) Bachelors of Science in nursing (BSN) degree programs, five (5) Master's of Science in nursing (MSN) degree programs, and two (2) Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in nursing programs. These programs are located in both public (state) universities and/or private colleges. …