Bringing diversity to the nursing workforce

by Katrina Gravel

This past month, the George Washington University School of Nursing (GW) received a three-year, $1 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to fund a program that aims to increase the diversity of nursing professionals, according to a press release from GW. The school’s Success in Nursing Education project focuses not only on drawing in African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American students, but also male students and economically disadvantaged students from Washington, D.C., and rural Virginia. nurse ethnicA report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in September 2010 showed that men made up less than 10% of employed RNs licensed between 2000 and 2008, while non-white or Hispanic nurses represented only 16.8% of all registered nurses in 2008. While those percentages may have grown in years since the HHS survey, it is unlikely that the gap has become significantly smaller.

The lack of ethnic minorities, males, and economically disadvantaged nursing students does not reflect the immense diversity of the patients these students will soon be treating. As an article in GW’s student newspaper The GW Hatchet cites the school of nursing’s Dean Jean Johnson as saying, “the nursing workforce should reflect what the population at large looks like.”

GW will use the grant to launch a recruitment campaign to reach disadvantage students, as well as students who are changing careers. The program will offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing, and will utilize retention tools such as mentoring programs. The grant will also create scholarships and financial aid for some students, according to the GW press release.

Has your organization made efforts to diversify its staff? What are your thoughts on the GW program? Leave a comment and let us know!

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