Diversity in nursing has become an increasingly important topic in recent years, and for good reason. The nursing profession, like many others, has historically lacked diversity and inclusion, leading to disparities in patient care and outcomes. As the world becomes more diverse, it is essential for the nursing workforce to reflect this diversity to provide high-quality and culturally competent care to all patients.
In this blog, we will examine the current state of diversity in nursing and discuss what the future may hold. We will explore trends in nursing education and recruitment, as well as emerging issues and opportunities related to diversity in healthcare.
The Current State of Diversity in Nursing
The nursing profession has made progress in terms of diversity in recent years, but there is still much work to be done. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), in 2019, 75.9% of registered nurses (RNs) in the United States were white, 9.9% were Black or African American, 5.3% were Hispanic or Latino, and 5.8% were Asian. While these numbers show some improvement from previous years, they still do not reflect the diversity of the general population.
Additionally, the lack of diversity in nursing leadership is a significant issue. According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), only 5% of nurses in top leadership positions are minorities, and only 1% are men.
Trends in Nursing Education and Recruitment
One way to increase diversity in nursing is to focus on nursing education and recruitment. Many nursing schools and programs are implementing initiatives to recruit and retain students from diverse backgrounds. Some programs are partnering with community organizations to reach underrepresented populations, while others are offering scholarships and financial support to students who face financial barriers to education.
In addition, nursing schools are beginning to incorporate diversity and cultural competency into their curricula to prepare students for providing care to patients from diverse backgrounds. This includes teaching students about the social determinants of health, unconscious bias, and cultural differences in health beliefs and practices.
Emerging Issues and Opportunities Related to Diversity in Healthcare
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of diversity in healthcare. The pandemic has disproportionately affected minority populations, highlighting the need for healthcare providers to understand and address health disparities. In addition, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of telehealth services, which have the potential to increase access to care for underserved populations.
Furthermore, the Black Lives Matter movement and other social justice movements have brought attention to systemic racism and discrimination in healthcare. This has led to increased efforts to address racism and promote diversity and inclusion in healthcare organizations.
The Business Case for Diversity in Nursing
There are numerous financial and operational benefits to having a diverse nursing workforce. According to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, hospitals with more diverse workforces have higher patient satisfaction scores and fewer adverse events. In addition, having a diverse workforce can increase employee engagement and retention and enhance reputation and brand image.
Best Practices for Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Nursing
To create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for nurses from diverse backgrounds, healthcare organizations and nursing leaders can implement practical strategies such as:
- Developing diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives
- Providing cultural competency training for staff
- Partnering with community organizations to reach underrepresented populations
- Creating employee resource groups for staff from diverse backgrounds
The Role of Technology in Advancing Diversity in Nursing
Technology can play a significant role in advancing diversity and inclusion in nursing. Virtual recruitment and onboarding can help to bridge the gap by reaching candidates from diverse backgrounds who may not have access to traditional recruitment methods. Telehealth services can increase access to care for underserved populations. Digital training and development programs can provide cultural competency and unconscious bias.
Opportunities for Nurses to Get Involved and Make a Difference
Finally, we must recognize that creating a more diverse and inclusive nursing workforce is a collective responsibility that requires the participation and advocacy of nurses at all levels. There are various nursing organizations and initiatives that are dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion in the nursing profession, such as the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, the National Black Nurses Association, and the Asian American/Pacific Islander Nurses Association, among others.
Individual nurses can also get involved and make a difference in their own way, whether it’s through mentorship programs, joining affinity groups, advocating for diversity and inclusion in their workplace, or pursuing leadership roles to effect change at a higher level.
In conclusion, the future of nursing is dependent on our ability to embrace diversity and make it an integral part of our profession. By recognizing the value and potential of a diverse nursing workforce, and by actively promoting diversity and inclusion in nursing education, recruitment, and retention, we can improve the quality of care for all patients and strengthen the nursing profession as a whole. Let us continue to work together to create a more equitable and just healthcare system that reflects the diversity of the communities we serve.
American Nurses Association. (2020). Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nursing Education. Retrieved from https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/workforce/health-safety/diversity-equity-and-inclusion-in-nursing-education/
American Nurses Association. (2020). Fact Sheet: Diversity in Nursing. Retrieved from https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/workforce/fact-sheets/diversity-in-nursing/
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Registered Nurses. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm
Campaign for Action. (2017). Diversity in Nursing: A Call to Action. Retrieved from https://campaignforaction.org/resource/diversity-nursing-call-action/
Chen, Y. (2019). Diversity and inclusion in the nursing workforce: A systematic literature review. Journal of Nursing Management, 27(7), 1417-1428.
National Council of State Boards of Nursing. (2020). The Importance of Diversity in Nursing Education. Retrieved from https://www.ncsbn.org/12154.htm
National League for Nursing. (2020). Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nursing Education. Retrieved from https://www.nln.org/docs/default-source/about/nln-vision-series-(position-statements)/diversity-equity-and-inclusion-in-nursing-education.pdf?sfvrsn=37e6aa4_2
Sullivan Commission. (2004). Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions. Retrieved from https://health-equity.lib.umd.edu/984/
U.S. Census Bureau. (2021). Quick Facts: United States. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219