By Pat Magrath – DiversityNursing.com
When you think of the nurses in your life – family, friends and coworkers – are they all female? For many years, this has been the reality. But these days, more men are getting into the field of nursing. A friend of mine, Esteban, and I were chatting about his 18-year career as a nurse.
Esteban grew up in Puerto Rico. His family came to the U.S. when he was a child. His father and brother are policemen, a field primarily dominated by men. When he talked to his mother about becoming a nurse, she wasn’t excited about it because “if you’re Hispanic and interested in becoming a nurse, it is assumed you’re gay.” When she realized his passion for nursing, she was supportive and advised him respectfully.
Esteban explained that, in his culture, there is “machismo.” The Urban Dictionary defines machismo as “having an unusually high or exaggerated sense of masculinity. Including an attitude that aggression, strength, sexual prowess, power and control is the measure of someone’s manliness.” With the nursing profession being predominately female, Esteban’s mother feared he’d be teased and not seen as a strong “man.”
In Esteban’s Hispanic culture, he explained, “female nurses are completely accepted with pride, but for a male nurse it is expected you’re gay. Machismo is very strong in the Mexican, Dominican and Puerto Rican cultures. More straight guys are getting into nursing now. It is changing because of the nursing shortage and shortage of jobs. For many, this is a second career choice when men couldn’t find work in their first career choice.”
Esteban’s family has been extremely supportive of his chosen career, particularly while he was pursuing his master’s degree online. He explained how important family support is. His family provided some meals, continually asked what he needed and attended his graduation. They are very proud of him.
English is not Esteban’s first language, so classes and homework were very difficult. If you’re Hispanic and thinking about becoming a nurse, he advises, “don’t procrastinate.” He explains, “you need time to research and support your articles.” With English as his second language, “it took more time to check my sources, read it, read it again, and… read it again. Then… write and re-write my papers. English-speaking people can take about a half hour. It took me three times longer.” He offers great advice about the support of family and the expectation that assignments will take longer to complete.
Think about taking classes online as an option in pursuing your nursing career while juggling a busy life.
Esteban’s proficiency in Spanish comes in very handy while working at the VA in Harlem as an RN Care Manager. He is often asked to translate for patients, and most of Esteban’s patients are male veterans and Hispanic. He said, “they like a Hispanic male nurse taking care of them.”
He has plans to continue his education in the fall of 2016 and work toward attaining his doctorate. While achieving his master’s through an online program, which served him well, he envisions taking his PhD classes in a classroom to consult with instructors and collaborate with others.
Whenever Esteban talks to people about becoming a nurse, he loves to point out that “as a nurse, you can work in any setting – hospitals, schools, insurance companies, etc. If you don’t want to be a bedside nurse, there are different places to work.”
Gracias for your insights, Esteban! We appreciate all your hard work and dedication.
And if you’re thinking about getting into this field, this is a great time to do so.
I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Like many healthcare providers in the Los Angeles area, and well beyond to healthcare organizations throughout the United States, City of Hope has recognized the growing need for clinical professionals and staff that more closely mirror the patients it serves in its catchment area. And with a local population that is nearly half Hispanic, that means recruiting more Hispanics into the industry, as well as providing much needed career development opportunities. But whereas most in the industry are just beginning to acknowledge the need, City of Hope has taken the lead to recruit more Hispanics into the industry and also has started to build a Hispanic talent pipeline for the immediate and not so distant future.
According to Ann Miller, senior director of talent acquisition and workforce development, "Even when people in the industry recognize the need for more Hispanics, or just a more diverse workforce, it can feel overwhelming trying to figure out what actions to take and how to build a strategy around it. But once you see the data laid out in front of you, and see that 46 percent of your primary service area is Hispanic, you realize it would be optimal to figure out how to recruit a workforce that looks more like the population you are serving. Beyond that, it's also important to employ a bilingual staff that can speak the language and understand the culture to best meet the needs of the community being served."
Once you recognize the need, it's time to start asking the questions that will help you fill the gaps:
- How do you find and appeal to the types of people you need to start building relationships with? Who are the influencers and the connectors?
- How do you get your recruitment team looking toward the future and building a pipeline, when limited resources are focused on more immediate needs?
- How do you get buy-in from senior management and enlist other departments throughout the organization?
- How do you partner with others in the industry who recognize the need but have yet to become active in the pursuit of common goals?
Here's how City of Hope has started to answer these questions as it takes the lead in addressing these timely industry issues. Stephanie Neuvirth, Chief Human Resources and Diversity Officer, has said that it's not easy to build a diverse healthcare or biomedical pipeline of talent, even when you understand the supply and demand of your primary service area and the business case becomes clearer. "Few in the industry are taking the helicopter perspective that is needed to really see the linkage between the different variables that must be factored in to solve the problem," she says.
Even in healthcare, it's not simple, and it takes time to develop the paths, the relationships and the pipeline to cause real and sustainable change. It takes linking a workforce talent strategy to the broader mission and strategic goals of the organization. And it takes collaboration with the community, schools, government, parents and everyone who touches the pipeline to help achieve the necessary and vital missing pieces of the puzzle.
Talent Acquisition and Workforce Development
What you first have to realize is that there is an immediate but also a long-term gap to fill, which represent two sides of the same coin: talent acquisition and workforce development. We know we can best serve our community by mirroring the community that we serve, and that doesn't stop with the talent that we attract today; it's an imperative that depends on the talent pipeline that we build for the future.
City of Hope's approach has been to start fast and strong with some immediate steps that can then be built upon and cascaded out into a longer term strategy for the future. The good news is that if your goal is to look like the community you serve, you don't have to look far for the talent you need. It's right in your own backyard. But there's still a lot of work to be done in terms of educating people about potential careers in healthcare -- clinical and otherwise -- developing the workforce skills and knowledge that they will need, and planting the seeds in the next generation.
It's particularly disheartening to hear about the young people graduating from high school and college who can't get jobs, when there are growing shortages in the healthcare industry - the nation's third largest industry, and projected to be its second largest in just seven years. According to a recent report by The Economist, U.S. businesses are going to depend heavily on Latinos - the country's fastest-growing and what it calls "irreversible" population -- to fill the gaps not just in healthcare but across all industries.
If you look just at nursing, the single largest profession in California, you can see how far we have to go. Only 7 percent of the 300,000 nurses in the state are Hispanic. The clinical gaps extend to doctors, just 6 percent Latino; pharmacists, less than 6 percent; and the list goes on and on.
Teresa McCormac, nurse recruiter, is one of the people at City of Hope working to build the Hispanic talent pipeline, beginning with the need for Spanish speaking nurses. She is responsible for elevating City of Hope's presence in the community through word of mouth referrals and by getting active in broader outreach online, in publications and at local, college and national events, such as the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) annual conference taking place in Anaheim, CA this July.
"It's important to have a passionate champion for the candidates, as well as our hiring managers and the organization. My role is to get the word out into the community about City of Hope and connect with the talent we need to fill our current and future openings," she says.
This requires a multi-prong approach to recruitment efforts, where you must act to attract candidates not only for current needs, but down the road five-ten years, and even further into the future.
This begs the question: how do you get more Hispanics and other diverse students interested in the sciences and considering careers in healthcare?
Traditionally, recruiters focus on those currently working in healthcare to fill immediate gaps, as well as those working in other industries with transferable skills, who might be interested in working in healthcare in a non-clinical capacity, such as IT or marketing. They also look at colleges with nursing and other clinical programs -- particularly those with high concentrations of Hispanics and other diverse students -- where they can conduct outreach efforts, build partnerships and establish a presence.
But building a talent pipeline requires that you reach students well before the college years, when they are still in high school, and even earlier as middle and grade-schoolers. It takes time to get the message out there and have it stick, so the bigger and bolder you can go, the better. That was City of Hope's thinking behind the launch of its Diversity Health Care Career Expo in September 2014, which made quite an impact with the community and opened eyes to the variety of career opportunities within healthcare. It also opened City of Hope's eyes to the level of interest from the community when 1500 people showed up for this first of its kind event.
What started as an idea for a diversity career fair to fill immediate positions quickly grew to encompass a workforce development component to include students, parents, as well as working professionals interested in transitioning into healthcare. The Career Expo brought a level of awareness never seen before in the community -- and did so very quickly. For example, it allowed healthcare professionals to connect the dots between math and science classes students were taking and how this learning applied in the real world of healthcare -- and the different careers these types of classes are helping to prepare them for if they stick with them. It also allowed parents to understand how to help their children prepare for jobs that are available and will continue to be available in the future. They also gained insights into how growing up with smartphones and other electronic devices has given their children a distinct advantage that previous generations didn't have -- enabling them to leverage their everyday use of technology into transferable skills that could lead towards a career in Information Technology, which offers a very promising career path within the healthcare and biomedicine industries.
Catching students early on to spark their interest and expose them to healthcare careers and professionals who can encourage and support them along the way requires that you go out into the community as well. Toward that end, City of Hope has partnered with Duarte Unified School District and Citrus College on a program called TEACH (Train, Educate and Accelerate Careers in Healthcare).
According to Tamara Robertson, senior manager of recruitment, the TEACH partnership provides students with the opportunity to gain college credit while still in high school by taking college-level classes at no cost. This puts them on the fast track to higher education and career readiness by giving them essential skills and capabilities to enter the workforce soon after graduating high school, or to continue their education with up to one year of college coursework already completed. Eighteen students were accepted into the program in its first year.
Each partner plays a valuable role in the program. City of Hope provides students with opportunities to gain first-hand exposure to healthcare IT by giving overviews of the various areas within IT, providing summer internships, and offering mentoring and development interactions. Duarte High School is the conduit for the program by selecting the students for the program and facilitating the learning, and Citrus College develops the curriculum that enables students to earn college credits and IT certifications. It's ideal for students who may not have the means to continue on to college, but can work for an organization like City of Hope that offers opportunities to start their IT career as a Helpdesk or Technology Specialist. In addition, they can take advantage of tuition reimbursement should they choose to further their education and development.
In today's world, social media must be in the recruitment mix, especially if you want to engage with Hispanics who index higher on time spent on social media than the general population and any other group. Statistically, 80 percent of Hispanics utilize social media compared to 75 percent of African Americans and 70 percent of non-Hispanic whites. It's also a great way to reach not just active candidates in search of a new position, but passive ones employed elsewhere whose interest may be peaked when a more interesting opportunity presents itself.
This is where Aggie Cooke, branding and digital specialist, comes in -- leveraging social media as a core component of City of Hope's outreach efforts to potential candidates. She takes a three-legged approach to the use of social media for recruitment:
1. Branding - offering relevant content that portrays the culture and appeals to a candidate's values and broader career aspirations;
2. Targeting - identifying potential candidates who have skills and experiences that the organization needs today and in the future; and
3. Engaging - creating a relationship by inviting candidates to dialog with City of Hope.
You can reach more people through social media -- even if they're not active job seekers -- by posting information that is relevant to their field and interests. For example, oncology nurses will be interested in what you have to say about the latest developments in the world of oncology.
Though it can seem overwhelming with so many messages out there competing for people's attention, you can break through with content that is authentic, timely and purposeful. You can also make an impact by tailoring your content to the medium you are using. For example, a story about a scientific breakthrough at City of Hope would play well on LinkedIn, while pictures of happy employees taking a Zumba class together would engage potential candidates on Instagram. Social media also enables you to expand the reach and prolong the life of live events. For example, attendees of the Career Expo last year engaged online with live tweets and Instagram pictures from the event and later provided comments and feedback about their experience that will be instrumental in planning this year's event.
Going forward, successful programs and events, like TEACH and the Diversity Health Care Career Expo, will be expanded upon, as City of Hope continues to lead the way in talent acquisition, workforce development and creating a talent pipeline for Hispanics and the future of healthcare.
NAHN is pleased to present the NAHN National Certification for Bilingual Healthcare Providers Medical Spanish Course & Exam in partnership with Canopy Apps, a health tech company that is improving access to information across language barriers to improve healthcare.
In line with NAHN’s dedication to the professionalism and advancement of Hispanic nurses, the NAHN Medical Spanish Certification offers access to improved provider competencies in Hispanic culture and language. Healthcare providers- both on the individual and organizational level - benefit from increased proficiency in medical Spanish, resulting in the ability to reach individuals who are unable or afraid to get assistance because of linguistic barriers. The acceptance of this credentialing in the provider community on a wide-spread basis has broad-reaching potential, including reduced risk of medication and treatment non-adherence in a growing Hispanic American population with increasing medical needs.
The NAHN Medical Spanish Course is a comprehensive, self-paced online course covering the essentials of patient-provider communication in Spanish. The medical Spanish knowledge provided in the three-level program results in a provider who can communicate with and provide appropriate care to Hispanic patients. Following the program, the NAHN Medical Spanish Certification exam assesses the ability for an individual to communicate directly with Hispanic patients in a clinical setting without the use of an interpreter. The program offers 18 Continuing Nurse Education (CNE) hours for completion of the course.
NAHN members receive a discount on both the course and the exam. When registering for the course and/or the exam, please login using the email address from which you received this email to receive your discount.
With the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and guided by a national advisory committee, a multidisciplinary team based at the University of Pennsylvania seeks to learn from clinicians or clinical leaders who are primarily responsible for transitional care services in health systems and communities throughout the United States. Specifically, the team is conducting a research study designed to better understand how transitional care services are being delivered in diverse organizations. Participation in this research survey is voluntary.
If you are a clinician or clinical leader responsible for transitional care service delivery in your organization, I encourage you to learn more about this study. To access the survey and more information on the study, please visit:
Transitional Care Survey
NAHN is happy to assist Dr. Mary Naylor and the University of Pennsylvania in this 2 year project. Dr. Mary Naylor will be providing NAHN with feedback on the survey results. If you know of others who have such responsibility within your association or work environment, please forward this email to them.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.
Growing up, Adriana Perez experienced the kinds of challenges that are at the core of the immigrant experience in America. She learned English as a second language, attended underperforming public schools in a small town, and struggled to pay for college because her parents—who were farmworkers—couldn’t afford to send her.
Through it all, Perez focused on the gifts she received during her upbringing: love and support from her family, guidance from her teachers and mentors, a strong work ethic derived from a culture that values hard work, and a personal drive to make a difference in her community.
When she reached adulthood, she made an unusual choice—at least for her demographic group: She became a nurse. Now an assistant professor of nursing at Arizona State University, Perez, PhD, ANP, is a member of the most underrepresented racial or ethnic group in nursing.
In 2013, Latinos comprised 3 percent of the nation’s nursing workforce, according to a survey by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and the National Forum of State Workforce Centers, and 17 percent of the nation’s population, according to a U.S. Census Bureau fact sheet. And their numbers are growing: By 2060, Latinos are projected to comprise nearly one-third of the U.S. population. But their growth in nursing has been slow, Perez said.
Recruiting more Latino nurses is about more than parity in the nursing workforce; it’s about improving health and health care for Latinos, who have disproportionately high rates of HIV transmission, teen pregnancy, and chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Latinos also are less likely to have health care coverage than other racial or ethnic groups.
More Latino nurses can help narrow disparities, experts say, because they are more likely to be able to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate care to Latino patients. “Having a culturally competent nurse really makes a difference in terms of compliance and patient outcomes,” said Elias Provencio-Vasquez, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAANP, dean of the nursing school at the University of Texas at El Paso and an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellows program (2009-2012). “Patients really respond when they have a provider who understands their culture.”
The Institute of Medicine (IOM)—the esteemed arm of the National Academy of Sciences that advises the nation’s leading decision-makers on matters relating to health and medicine—agrees. In 2004, it published a report calling for a more diverse health care workforce to improve quality and access to care and to narrow racial and ethnic health disparities. And in 2010, the IOM released a report that included calls for greater diversity within the nursing profession in particular.
Latinos Aren’t Flocking to Nursing
Yet despite their growing numbers, Latinos are not flocking en masse to the nursing profession.
That’s in large part because of inequity in education, said Dan Suarez, BSN, MA, president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. “Many Latinos come from poor educational systems, and few concentrate on the kinds of science and math courses that are needed to enter nursing school. Latinos have the highest high school drop-out rate in the nation, and many students are just focused on staying in school and making it to graduation.”
Meanwhile, there are relatively few Latino nurse leaders and educators who can serve as role models, coaches and mentors to the next generation of nurses, Perez said. “When young people aren’t able to see themselves in those roles, it’s hard to imagine that they could be in that role.”
Language and culture also play a role. Latino parents often discourage Latino youth—and especially boys—from pursuing nursing because it is regarded as a low-status, low-pay service job in Mexico and parts of Latino America, Suarez said. “Parents tell their children they can do better than nursing ... Nursing has an image problem, and we’re trying to change that.”
The culture’s emphasis on traditional gender roles also discourages Latina wives and mothers from working outside the home and, if they do, from pursuing leadership positions, said Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, PhD, RN, FAAN, a professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis and an RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program alumna (2004-2007). “The majority of Latina nurses go into associate degree programs and don’t see the need to go back for more education.”
Racism against Latinos, she added, is “full-blown,” especially amid the national debate over immigration. Academics and others retain unconscious biases against Latinos and members of other groups that are underrepresented in nursing.
RWJF is committed to increasing diversity in nursing through programs such as New Careers in Nursing, which works to increase the diversity of nursing professionals to help alleviate the nursing shortage, and the RWJF Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at the University of New Mexico, which prepares nurses, especially those from underserved populations in the Southwest, to become distinguished leaders in health policy. The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a joint initiative of RWJF and AARP, is working to diversify the nursing workforce, with help from Perez and others. The National Association of Hispanic Nurses, meanwhile, offers scholarships to Latino nursing students.
But more needs to be done, Siantz and others said. Educational bridge programs to help students transition into nursing school are needed, as are interventions to dispel negative stereotypes about nursing among Latinos and increased mentorship for aspiring nurses and nursing students. “Latino nurses often talk about the influence of a family member, or a role model, or a mentor who told them to be a nurse,” said Perez, whose grandmother, a nurse in Mexico, encouraged her to pursue nursing in the United States. “We need to do more of that kind of outreach.”
The National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) has received a five-year, $1.24 million Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) grant from the National Institutes of Health to support NAHN’s collaborative project with the Hispanic Communications Network (HCN) entitled Hispanic Role Models in Health Careers.
This collaborative NIH R25 program has been established to address the need for cultural and linguistic diversity among health professionals by recruiting and interviewing bilingual role models and arranging to broadcast those interviews. Through these efforts, the project aims to inform Spanish-speakers about the range of health careers open to them through proper education, and to inspire them to imagine themselves in careers focusing on health and medicine.
Leveraging HCN’s nationally-broadcast health education radio shows, whose cumulative audiences are larger than NPR’s “All Things Considered,” as well as the social media outreach of both organizations, this project has the potential to reach one-third of the nation’s Hispanic population during its first five years.
“In the United States, registered nurses represent 3 million members, the largest segment of the U.S. health care workforce.Yet, Hispanics still comprise only 3.6 percent of all nurses. I am excited that NIH has provided NAHN the opportunity to be able to reach out to our Hispanic youth with hopes to inspire them into becoming a professional nurse,” said Angie Millan, Principal Investigator of the Hispanic Role Models In Health Careers.
“This new SEPA project, Hispanic Role Models in Health Care Careers, is aligned with NAHN’s commitment to support professional career opportunities for Hispanic nurses and their effort to improve health in Hispanic communities. The project also supports the SEPA’s goals of providing opportunities for students from underserved communities to pursue careers in biomedical fields and to improve community health literacy,” said Dr. Tony Beck, director of the NIH Office of Science Education/SEPA.
In addition to national media outreach, a number of bilingual online resources for health career aspirants will be established, including an extensive database of volunteer professionals who have said “¡Sí!¡Seré Mentor!” (“Yes! I will mentor you!”). These resources will provide Hispanics of all ages and walks of life with the opportunity to form relationships with seasoned healthcare professionals.
Additional outreach to be established alongside the project include: public speaking and media relations training opportunities provided for attendees of NAHN’s annual conference; an Advisory Committee of health organizations, professionals and advocates established to recommend role models and provide periodic feedback; and bilingual independent evaluators associated with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health instituted to conduct rigorous evaluation throughout the project.
To learn more about the Hispanic Role Models in Health Careers program, please visit www.nihsepa.org
CONTACT: Celia Besore, MBA, CAE, Executive Director/CEO
National Association of Hispanic Nurses, (202) 387-2477
For immediate release:
New Scholarship Opportunity for NAHN Members
Extended NAHN Scholarships and Awards Deadlines
Washington, DC (May 21, 2013) — The National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) is delighted to announce the addition of a new scholarship opportunity to the NAHN scholarship program.
The University of Phoenix has partnered with NAHN to offer three (3) full-tuition scholarships. Each scholarship will allow a prospective student the opportunity to complete a LPN/LVN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), an RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program at University of Phoenix. Recipients may choose to attend a University of Phoenix on-ground campus or may attend University of Phoenix online.
- Applicants must be current members of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) and must have been a member for six (6) consecutive months or more by the award date for this scholarship.
- Have a valid, unrestricted, unencumbered LPN, LVN license, OR RN license from the United States in all states in which you hold an active license.
- Applicant must be wanting to enroll and pursue one of the following degree programs, LPN/LVN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing*, RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Master of Science in Nursing.
- Applicants, once enrolled, must not receive a total of 100% tuition reimbursement from any source(s) including but not limited to: corporate reimbursement, other scholarships and/or private grants with the exception of Veteran’s Administration GI benefits or Veteran’s Administration Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits and Title IV financial aid funding.
Application deadline: June 18, 2013
Award date: July 26, 2013
Explore the NAHN University of Phoenix Scholarship page to learn about the scholarship program and to apply for this great opportunity or visit http://www.phoenix.edu/nahnscholar.
Extension of NAHN Scholarship Date and Removal of W-2 Requirement
Due to this new scholarship opportunity, NAHN is extending the deadline of the regular NAHN Scholarships program to June 18, 2013 so all the deadlines match the University of Phoenix scholarship application deadline. All NAHN Scholarship applications must be received at the NAHN office by June 18, 2013.
Below is the link to the amended NAHN Scholarship Application Form (with new deadline and waived W-2 requirement):
We encourage all our members who qualify to both scholarship programs to apply to BOTH NAHN scholarship opportunities! Last year, NAHN distributed $40,000 in scholarships.
Extension of NAHN Special Awards Application Deadline
We are also extending the deadline to send the Special NAHN Awards application. All NAHN Scholarship applications must be received at the NAHN office by June 18, 2013. Nominate one of your Chapter champions or nominate yourself!
Below is the link to the 2013 NAHN Special Awards section.
About National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN)
NAHN National Association of Hispanic Nurses® is a non-profit professional association committed to the promotion of the professionalism and dedication of Hispanic nurses by providing equal access to educational, professional, and economic opportunities for Hispanic nurses. NAHN is also dedicated to the improvement of the quality of health and nursing care of Hispanic consumers.
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New learning institute builds on past success to diversify the dental profession
By Janet Edwards
At the age of 13, Esther Lopez, DDS, knew intimately her mother’s battle with cancer because she served as the primary translator between the patient, a native of Ecuador, and her doctors. Even at such a young age, Lopez vowed the excruciating experience would influence her life’s work. She didn’t know the term “public health” then, but that’s where she would later find fulfillment, through dentistry. In part, Lopez credits the now defunct, but still influential, Dental Pipeline program for helping her achieve that dream. A new project, the Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute, builds on the program that brought Lopez into dentistry.
Esther Lopez is a dentist in Oak Park, Ill. Through both private practice and volunteer public health efforts, she works with low-income and minority populations, groups that typically find dental services inaccessible, complex, and unwelcoming. In large part, Lopez credits a now-defunct minority recruitment program, the Dental Pipeline, for the opportunity to do such work, a longtime ambition that often seemed out of reach.
Lopez is one of a small number of minority dentists in the country—only 9 percent of practicing dentists are African American, Hispanic, or American Indian. While these underrepresented groups comprise nearly 30 percent of the general population, they account for just 13 percent of first-year dental students. Dental schools and their community partners seek to close that gap through a new program that adopts lessons learned from the Dental Pipeline.
Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute
The original Dental Pipeline launched with funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and The California Endowment. In all, 23 (out of 62) U.S. dental schools were involved in the decade-long program, which ended in 2011. Widely credited with transforming dental education, the Dental Pipeline resulted in better access to care for underserved populations, along with more student exposure to community-based services and higher enrollment among minority students.
A new program launched in fall 2012, the Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute (NLI), is intended to build on that success. Project partners are the American Dental Education Association and the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, in San Francisco, Calif. Support comes from an initial 18-month, $650,000 grant funded by RWJF.
Eleven schools were tapped as NLI participants. Each institution receives $12,000 to cover the cost of building a recruitment project or community-based education component. The program includes a three-day training course covering best practices, advocacy and leadership, and various mentoring opportunities.
Paul Glassman, DDS, professor and director of Community Oral Health at University of the Pacific, is project director. The primary goal is to expose other dental schools to methodologies developed as part of the Dental Pipeline “so they wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel,” he says.
Evidence of the Dental Pipeline’s success is found in the numbers, Glassman says. “Schools involved in the Pipeline managed to dramatically increase—double, triple, even quadruple—the number of underrepresented minority students entering their schools. [Enrollments of] other dental schools not involved in the program stayed static,” he says.
The NLI is a one-year program. Participants are dental school faculty members who collaborate with a partner from a local organization, such as a minority-focused college or community health center. “We want some significant community partner involved because we’re really trying to emphasize the fact that in this very complex world that we live in, dental schools really can’t break through these barriers by themselves. The way to make progress in our current world is through partnerships and establishing networks,” Glassman says.
Like its predecessor, the NLI is also designed to develop future leaders in the push to provide more diverse dental care in community-based health settings, Glassman says. Barriers to health care for low-income and minority individuals, which result in less dental care and more dental disease, are well documented, he adds.
“Minority populations tend to have more dental disease than more affluent populations and majority populations. They tend to have more barriers to access to care, so they get care less regularly,” he says. Paying for dental care is a serious obstacle, along with language and cultural challenges. “They feel uncomfortable going into a dental office because they feel someone isn’t going to understand them,” he says.
“We’re expecting people who go through this program to become future leaders in this area, so within their own school and their community, and maybe even regionally, they’re going to be someone steeped in this whole idea of the dental profession doing a better job of improving the health of underserved populations and keep the momentum going,” he says.
The Minority Enrollment Challenge
While the Dental Pipeline made positive inroads toward recruiting minority dental students, the NLI is designed to keep the momentum going, says Kim D’Abreu, senior vice president for access, diversity, and inclusion for the ADEA.
The effort continues to face several high priority challenges. A large pool of minority students who could succeed in dental school remains untapped, D’Abreu says, including 12,500 students of color who graduate with majors in the biological sciences each year. “A 2003 focus group study published in the Journal of Dental Education found that early and frequent exposure to dentistry and dentists in practice is essential for minority students to consider the profession. Dental schools need additional tools and strategies to attract a talented group of underrepresented minority students,” she says.
The process by which dental schools evaluate student candidates is undergoing review, Glassman says.
“Traditionally, admission is based on grade point average, extracurricular activities, and other sorts of measures that aren’t necessarily the measures that students from minorities have excelled in … because they were working while they were in school and facing other social challenges in their lives,” he says. While it makes it harder for them to get through the admission process, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are less qualified or passionate about a career in dentistry, he says. Schools are now adopting a whole file review approach, one less focused on the numbers, Glassman says.
The whole file review, which takes into consideration a host of cognitive and non-cognitive variables, has already proven to be effective and is just one of other successful admissions strategies shared with NLI institutional participants, D’Abreu says.
Engaging Students in Community Health
Along with recruitment of minority students, another goal of the Dental Pipeline was to get students to spend more of their clinical time in community health settings, a mission that continues under the NLI program.
“(In the Dental Pipeline) we increased the number of days from three to four to up to 50 days for senior dental students as part of the education program,” Glassman says. “The hope is that in doing so, these students become more comfortable with community sites, they understand more about that kind of delivery mechanism, become more comfortable with diverse populations, and are better able to serve those populations in the future.”
Esther Lopez knows too well the importance of that exposure. Her father, a Cuban-born immigrant, abandoned the family of three children, including a brother and sister, following the death of her mother. But in the midst of her undergraduate work in biology at DePaul University—coursework Lopez had hoped would lead to medical school—her father returned, homeless and afflicted with health issues that eventually led to two strokes. He had no job and no insurance. Between studies, Lopez pleaded with pharmaceutical companies for free medicine, and again served as a translator with various health agencies and doctors.
“We were able to get some assistance,” Lopez says. “Things were going as well as they could have, considering the fact that we didn’t have health insurance. I really wanted to stay in school so I tried as best I could to find resources to help us along the way.”
By the time her father died in 2000, Lopez, exhausted, had given up on medical school, but she was more determined than ever to help resolve the challenges facing low-income and minority individuals seeking medical care. She completed her bachelor’s degree, and then enrolled in the master’s program in public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). With her coursework finished, Lopez continues to work on her thesis.
While attending UIC, she joined a research project involving people with periodontal disease and diabetes.
“We were trying to determine what needs existed for people that had diabetes, and if they even knew there was a corollary between that and periodontal disease, specifically in the Latino community. I got engaged, really excited, and decided dentistry intrigued me,” Lopez says.
With the help of the Dental Pipeline, she enrolled in UIC’s College of Dentistry. “Dental school is really,
really expensive. The fact that we have programs like the Dental Pipeline for people like me is just amazing,” she says. Lopez received some tuition reimbursement from the program and worked as a research assistant in exchange for remaining tuition waivers.
While in dental school, she joined a group of fellow students in establishing the first student-run dental clinic in the United States.
Located on the north side of Chicago, the clinic still operates in Goldie’s Place, which serves as a place for homeless adults to get back on their feet. In 1997, a single dentist began providing services. In 2008, Lopez and others created the student component.
“Goldie’s Place helps dental students become part of the change, which is what I really wanted to do,” says Lopez, who served for a time as clinic director after graduating
from dental school.
As a student, she often spoke with colleagues about the challenges of health care in low-income communities. “A lot of times someone who comes from privilege has blinders to different barriers that exist. I think it’s more impactful when you’re hearing from a colleague about things that make it hard for you to succeed,” she says.
No matter a person’s race, ethnicity, or income level, dental needs will always be the same: a cavity is always a cavity, an extraction is an extraction, Lopez says. “But the way they perceive disease is always different,” she says, a concept that young dental students initially struggle with at Goldie’s Place. “It’s hard for them to understand, but it’s true. When you come from an underprivileged background, it’s not that you’re neglecting yourself; it’s just that it’s more important to feed your child. Or pay your rent.”
Communicating correct information in a way that is easy for clients to understand is imperative, Lopez says. “It’s important to service them understanding their cultural needs.”
Today, many of her classmates continue to work with grassroots organizations. One student has written a manual on how to establish a student-run dental clinic based on the Goldie’s Place model. “They’re addressing dental health issues not one person at a time, but communities at a time,” Lopez says. Other community-based health organizations in Chicago are beginning to incorporate the model for student clinicians, she says.
“I’m proud of the fact that … I was able to do something like participate in the Goldie’s Place dental clinic. There are so many great things going on there. Every time I hear of some success on their part it makes me happy. If it weren’t for the Dental Pipeline I wouldn’t have been able to do that. It’s meant a lot, not just for me, but for community members that really needed it.”
Lopez continues to volunteer at Goldie’s Place, and as part of a Chicago Community Oral Health Forum project to assess the dental health needs of adults and children. The Dental Pipeline gave Lopez the opportunity to both share her hard-won knowledge in the realm of public health and to establish a meaningful career addressing the issues, she says.
“I’m really excited that programs like this exist because they give students like me a chance to fulfill their dreams,” Lopez says. “It really does make me feel a sense of responsibility, because there was an organization that backed me, to really give back to the community in a significant way.”
Source: Insight Into Diversity
Is something similar to the Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute happening in your area to increase the number of minorities that go in to the Nursing profession as well as offer Nursing access to undeserved populations? Comment below!
By ABIGAIL ZUGER, M.D.
When a book is heavy with glossy photographs, you seldom expect too much from its words. In “The American Nurse,” though, it’s the narrative that hits you in the solar plexus.
Take the comments of Jason Short, a hospice nurse in rural Kentucky. Mr. Short started out as an auto mechanic, then became a commercial trucker. “When the economy went under,” he says, “I thought it would be a good idea to get into health care.” But a purely pragmatic decision became a mission: Mr. Short found his calling among the desperately ill of Appalachia and will not be changing careers again.
“Once you get a taste for helping people, it’s kind of addictive,” he says, dodging the inspirational verbiage that often smothers the healing professions in favor of a single incontrovertible point.
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Some of the 75 nurses who tell their stories in this coffee-table book headed into the work with adolescent passion; others backed in reluctantly just to pay the bills. But all of them speak of their difficult, exhilarating job with the same surprised gratitude: “It’s a privilege and honor to do what I do,” says one. “I walk on sacred ground every day.”
They hail from a few dozen health care settings around the country, ranging from large academic institutions like Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to tiny facilities like the Villa Loretto Nursing Home in Mount Calvary, Wis., home to 50 patients and a collection of goats, sheep and other animals on a therapeutic farm. Some nurses are administrators, some staff wards or emergency rooms, some visit patients at home. Many are deeply religious, a few are members of the military, and a handful of immigrants were doctors in their home countries.
All describe unique professional paths in short first-person essays culled from video interviews conducted by the photographer Carolyn Jones. Their faces beam out from the book in Ms. Jones’s black-and-white headshots, a few posing with a favorite patient or with their work tools — a medevac helicopter, a stack of prosthetic limbs or a couple of goats.
But even the best photographs are too static to capture people who never stop moving once they get to work. For a real idea of what goes on in their lives, you have to listen to them talk.
Here is Mary Helen Barletti, an intensive care nurse in the Bronx: “My whole life I’ve marched to a the beat of a different drummer. I used to have purple hair, which I’d blow-dry straight up. I wore tight jeans, high heels and — God forgive me — fur (now I am an animal rights activist). My patients loved it. They said I was like sunshine coming into their room.”
Says Judy Ramsay, a pediatric nurse in Chicago: “For twelve years I took care of children who would never get better. People ask how I could do it, but it was the most fulfilling job of my life. We couldn’t cure these kids, but we could give them a better hour or even a better minute of life. All we wanted to do was make their day a little brighter.”
Says Brad Henderson, a nursing student in Wyoming: “I decided to be a nurse because taking care of patients interested me. Once I started, nursing just grabbed me and made me grow up.”
Says Amanda Owen, a wound care nurse at Johns Hopkins: “My nickname here is ‘Pus Princess.’ I don’t talk about my work at cocktail parties.”
John Barbe, a hospice nurse in Florida, sums it up: “When I am out in the community and get asked what I do for a living, I say that I work at Tidewell Hospice, and there’s complete silence. You can hear the crickets chirping. It doesn’t matter because I love what I do; I can’t stay away from this place.”
The volume is not entirely about selfless service: It was underwritten by Fresenius-Kabi, a German health care corporation and leading supplier of intravenous drugs in the United States. Presumably, crass public relations motives lurk somewhere in the background. But that’s no real reason to be meanspirited about the result, a compelling advertisement for an honorable profession.
Young people with kind hearts and uncertain futures might just sit themselves down with the book, or wander through the Web site featuring its video interviews, www.americannurseproject.com, and see what happens.
By: Tanya M. Odom, Ed.M.
Diversity and inclusion is an evolving field. As a learner and practitioner, I work to embrace the expanding definitions while respecting the importance of the historic diversity topics of race and gender.
How we approach conversations about difference can determine how we embrace new definitions of identity, and the “agility” needed to learn, grow, and support all people in organizations.
Multiracial people are one of the fastest growing groups in the United States. As Andrea Williams mentioned in her article about multiracial students in the April/May 2012 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity, “the 2010 Census marked the second time in the survey’s history that responders were allowed to check more than one box regarding their race; the first was in 2000. And as a result, demographers now have access to data that allows for comprehensive comparison and charting of the mixed race population. The results are remarkable: from 2000 to 2010, the number of multiracial American children – who will soon be attending colleges and universities across the country – rose by almost 50%, to 4.2 million.
The changing demographics have inspired people to create language like “the multicultural generation” and “ethnically ambiguous,” among others. Williams’ article presents some important reflection about creating schools and universities that support multiracial students.
Not-for-profit organizations and corporations will also need to update their language, understanding, and awareness to include multiracial employees, and employees with multiracial families.
A June 2012 Fast Company article talked about the importance of “cultural agility.” They defined “cultural agility” as “the capacity to recognize, understand, and respond appropriately to various cultures, and to work within those cultures to achieve business results.” The language of “agility” is also highlighted in the Center for Creative Leadership’s recent newsletter. They talk about flexibility and agility as a key to leadership. Agility is an important part of the learning and awareness in diversity and inclusion. Multiracial identity is not new, nor is the presence of multiracial families in our organizations.
There is a global history of multiracial people. There is a substantial scholarship focusing on the role of multiracial people in our history, media, etc. What we have not seen at the same level is the inclusion of multiracial people in diversity and inclusion dialogues and programs. As a multiracial global diversity and inclusion practitioner and coach, I have learned that, as with all diversity topics, there are varying levels of awareness about what multiracial identity means to employees and to diversity and inclusion initiatives.
One of the first times that I was part of a professional “group” of multiracial individuals was while attending a Working Mother Media Women’s conference. I remember feeling the uniqueness of the experience.
Participants in workshops or present at some of my speeches would approach me and talk about their “invisible diversity,” which for some meant their multiracial identity. For others, it meant their partner, spouse, or child of a different race. Often they swapped tales of not having a place to share their diversity stories.
The presence of multiracial individuals and families can challenge our notions and comfort around talking about race and history, race and families, and race and racism.
Multiracial individuals and families are part of the changing workforce. In the spirit of learning agility, I would suggest that organizations learn to incorporate language and programs that include multiracial individuals and families.
We can continue to be “agile” in our learning about multiracial identity by:
- Assessing data collection that does not allow for identifying as multiracial individuals and families;
- Including multiracial groups as part of the growing affinity/ERG/Networking groups within organizations;
- Allowing multiracial people to self-identify – and not identify employees based upon what we observe;
- Updating our language and communication to include multiracial identity and;
- Learning more about national groups (SWIRL, MAVIN, etc.) that address multiracial identity and families.
Our learning and growth continues as long as we remain “agile.” The inclusion of more stories, experiences, and identities makes the journey even richer.
Tanya Odom, Ed.M, is a part-time Senior Consultant with The FutureWork Institute and a member of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Editorial Board.
Published in September/October 2012 issue.