Retaining Ethnic Minority Nurisng Students (REMNS): A Mutidimensional Approach

By Abdur-Rahman, Veronica; Gaines, Chloe | ABNF Journal, March/April 1999 | Go to article overview

Retaining Ethnic Minority Nurisng Students (REMNS): A Mutidimensional Approach


Abdur-Rahman, Veronica, Gaines, Chloe, ABNF Journal


Abstract: The under-representation of minority nurses in the nation is of critical concern for nurse educators. The high attrition rate of minority nursing students, on a local and national level, has not been effectively addressed. Project REMNS (Retaining Ethnic Minority Nursing Students), an innovative, comprehensive project, was designed to increase the retention of minority nursing students at Prairie View ANM Universit),. Pre-clinical nursing students were provided strategies to improve critical thinking, stress management, and reading comprehension skills. This was accomplished by the development and implementation of content relevant computer modules on stress management, nutrition, and critical thinking. Implementation of Project REMNS resulted in an increased number of pre-nursing students admitted and retained in the nursing program.

Key Words: Retention; Ethnic Minority Nursing Students; Critical Thinking; Reading comprehension

A significant disparity exists between enrollment retention and graduation rates of Caucasian students and ethnic minority students from nursing programs, with minority students lagging far behind in all three areas (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 1995; Moccia, 1994). Many nurse leaders have cited the need for more minority representation in educational programs and the health care arena. According to Dumas (1998:i, increasing minority representation in the profession increases our ability to address the health care needs of diverse groups, and ensure the continued vitality and relevance of our profession. It is therefore incumbent that nurse educators develop innovative approaches to close the educational gaps and achieve parity in nursing. This paper describes the implementat:ion and evaluation of a funded project designed to increase the retention of ethnic minority nursing students.

LITERATURE REVIEW

The importance of increasing retention and graduation rates of ethnic minority students can best be understood in light of the country's rapidly changing demographics. Census data indicate that nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population consists of ethnic minority groups and that the largest proportionate increase in the U.S. population - across all age groups - will be among groups with racial ethnic backgrounds. By the year 2010, more than one third of the U.S. population will be made up of individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds. Yet only 10 percent of the 2,115,815 practicing registered nurses in the U.S. are from African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian/Alaskan Natives backgrounds (Division of Nursing, 1996).

According to Outlaw (1997), minority nurses are significantly connected to the health outcomes of minority clients therefore increasing their representation in the health care arena is crucial. Outlaw noted that important reasons for increasing the number of minority health care providers included the rapidly growing minority population, the current health service shift from hospital-based to community-based care and the very bleak health status of minority clients. Hine (1989) argued that ethnic minority nurses play a key role in helping to improve the overall health status of less advantaged clients because they are often more familiar with the communities where large numbers of minorities live. It has been estimated that sixty (60) percent to eighty (80) percent of minority students trained in the health professions voluntarily practice in or close to designated shortage areas with overwhelmingly minority client populations (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1990).

If the inclusion of ethnic minorities in nursing is to begin to approach parity with their numbers in the general population, then it is not enough to merely increase enrollment of minority students. Clearly, the retention of minority students already enrolled in nursing programs is the quickest and most efficient method of increasing diversity within the profession. …

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