Diversity in the Nursing field is necessary to progress health equity and improve patient outcomes. As a result of efforts in recent years, the Nursing workforce today is more diverse than it was a decade ago, but there is still work to be done. The goal is to have a health workforce that mirrors the nation’s diverse population.
“Latinos make up 17.3 percent of the U.S. population,” said Norma Cuellar, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor of Nursing at The University of Alabama, director of the BAMA-Latino Project, and president-elect of NAHN. “Unfortunately, as the number of Latinos continue to rise, the number of Latino RNs does not. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, there are about 2.9 million RNs in the country, and just three percent are identified as Latinos. This results in a failure to provide culturally congruent care, language barriers, and health disparities in the Latino population.”
As the principal investigator over the NIH-SEPA grant, Angie Millan, RN, DNP, FAAN, NAHN project director and the Nursing director of Children’s Medical Services for the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, aims to inform new generations of Latinos to consider Nursing as a worthy and rewarding career, and provide the guidance, support and resources needed to achieve Nursing career aspirations.
“The Hispanic community is very young, with an average age of around 26, and our numbers continue to increase,” Angie said. “However, the number of Hispanic Nurses is not keeping up with the growth. We need help in communicating with parents, students, teachers, and counselors that Nursing is a great career, and that to be prepared, students need to know the math and science requirements.”
Teri Murray, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing at Saint Louis University said, “Racially diverse students, from populations currently underrepresented in Nursing, will be paired with peer mentors, faculty mentors and seasoned Nurse mentors who are out working in the field. “Mentoring has been shown to be effective for students from underrepresented backgrounds in serving as role models, assisting students to navigate college life and the profession, and in general showing the student the ropes,” Murray told the American.
2018 marks the fourth year of the NAHN Hispanics in Nursing campaign to increase the number of Hispanic Nurses, which is made possible through a grant received from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Science Education Partnership (SEPA). In addition to providing information about which classes to take in high school to prepare for Nursing prerequisites and highlighting the profiles of Latino Nurse role models, the campaign also provides access to Mentors Connection, a database of Latino Nurses who can provide career guidance, advice, and cultural perspective to prospective Nurses.
“It is imperative that we encourage these Latino students not only to obtain their degree in nursing, but to pursue advanced degrees. There is a dire need to increase the number of Latino nurses who are academically prepared to be leaders in a variety of healthcare roles,” said Dr. Cuellar. “In this ever-changing healthcare landscape, it’s more important than ever for Latino nurses to have a seat at the table. We have to be leaders in nursing, and we have to be the voice for the Latino population.”