Discover why diversity in nursing matters

A diverse nursing workforce can be a crucial component in reducing health disparities, improving outcomes and transforming care in an ever-evolving patient population.

Our Strive for Diversity in Nursing digital edition can help you explore this topic and the impact culturally competent care has on the profession and on patients.

“Diversity in healthcare providers is generally accepted as a precursor for understanding our patient population and providing optimal care and services for the diverse composition of Americans,” writes Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN, founder and CEO of the Forum for Shared Governance. “It’s not just ethnic and racial groups we’re addressing. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and queer individuals have their own specific healthcare needs and values that add a dimension not encountered — or even imagined — before.”

In another article, writer Lisette Hilton cites alarming data from the CDC and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Young adult and middle-aged blacks are more likely to die from diseases that are more common in older white Americans, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, she reports in “Racial disparities still exist in healthcare.”

As many as one in 100 blacks develop heart failure before age 50, the article states — 20 times the rate of whites in the same age group.

“If you take a condition like renal failure and the use of kidney transplantation and dialysis, you see racial disparities with blacks being less likely to get renal transplants for treatment of that disease,” said Eric Schneider, MD, senior vice president for policy and research at The Commonwealth Fund. “Studies have shown that is a result of a chain of events where blacks are less likely than whites at every stage to get the diagnosis of kidney failure, to be treated for kidney failure with the right medication, to adhere to those treatments, to be listed for transplantation and to receive a kidney. That’s just one example. There are several others.”

Patient population warrants more diversity

As the patient population grows and changes, so must the healthcare workforce. In the digital edition article, “A look at the country’s diversity,” statistics show one in five Americans is expected to be age 65 and older by 2030, with more than half of all Americans projected to belong to a minority group by 2044.

The digital edition also shares advice from nursing associations and ways the profession aims to improve diversity throughout the workforce.

“We all have a unique story and background as to why we end up who we are,” said Misty Wilkie, PhD, RN, immediate past president of the National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association. “I find the most interesting stories are from those who have a different cultural background than my own. I’m fascinated with learning about cultural beliefs, values and behaviors because I want to be respectful of others. By learning about what makes a person tick, we can provide the highest quality of care to our patients.”

Find out the perspective of Anabell Castro Thompson, MSN, APRN, ANP-C, FAAN, president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses in her exclusive interview.

“In order to be it, you have to see it,” said Thompson. “We need more diverse academic role models and nurse leaders who resemble the communities they are serving.”

Take a look at the healthcare needs of LGBTQ patients with an informative piece featuring Michael Johnson, PhD, RN, chairman of the national Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. Johnson, who is raising a young son with his husband, talks about the perception of healthcare providers who often assume all patients are heterosexual.

The guide encourages nurses to learn more about indigenous populations in the U.S. and points to a need for more education among healthcare professionals regarding these groups.

We talk to Capt. Dana Hayworth, MSN, RN, acting chief nurse officer of the Indian Health Service in Rockville, Md., a federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives. The state is home to more than 20,000 people who identified as either American Indian or Alaska Native alone, and nearly 60,000 people who said American Indian or Alaska Native comprises some portion of their ethnic heritage, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

“Nurses working with this population need to understand the healthcare issues specific to this group and subgroups (tribe specific) in order to provide culturally competent care. As nurses, we are advocates for our patients who entrust us with their care,” Hayworth said. “We cannot advocate for indigenous populations without an understanding of their physical, mental and spiritual needs.”

Readers also can earn credit with a CE course on cultural competence, become better informed on the concept of precision health and learn about the connection between nurse diversity and inclusion.

Explore Strive for Diversity in Nursing today and become inspired to be part of this exciting and progressive era in healthcare!

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