Black History Month: The Benefits of a Culturally Diverse Healthcare Workforce
Every year since 1976, the month of February has been officially recognized by the U.S. President, as Black History Month. In honor of this month-long celebration of the contributions that African Americans have made toward our nation’s history, we have chosen to focus on the positive growth of diversity in the nursing profession.
According to the most recent data collected, the 2015 National Nursing Workforce Study, almost 20% of nursing respondents reported a minority background. Of the nation’s 3.1 million registered nurses, 12% are African American. In addition to the increasing diversity among nurses, figures from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) show that the number of African-American nurses earning advanced level degrees has grown rapidly over the past ten years. Between 2006 and 2016, the percentage of students earning doctoral degrees went from being 10.6 percent African-American to over 16 percent, while the percentage earning master’s degrees jumped from 11 percent to over 14 percent.
Let’s look at why it is so important to continue growing the diversity within the nursing profession.
- Just as the patient population is a diverse one, the nursing population should reflect the same. Having a diverse workforce effectively increases the comfort level of the patients as they know that the person providing their care can relate to their background, culture, and experiences. Another benefit of diversity in the nursing workforce is that young people of varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds who receive care may be inspired to consider pursuing a career in healthcare because of their experience.
- When diversity is a priority in an organization, all nurses are going to benefit by having equal access to positions, promotions, and other opportunities. Diversity within the nursing ranks means that there is natural support between nurses who share an ethnicity or other cultural characteristics. Diversity in teams provide a greater environment for new ideas and better ways of doing things because of the differences in perspectives and experiences of the members.
- Diversity is a growing component of improving the quality of healthcare overall. A diverse healthcare workforce has a greater ability to treat patients from a wider range of cultural and social backgrounds. Plus, newer models of intervention that have the potential to pose cultural sensitivity issues are identified and corrected more efficiently.
- Additionally, the organization benefits from promoting diversity within their staffing as there is more opportunity to impact policy-making and present better recommendations to various local, state, and federal agencies because of the broader range of experiences among their nursing teams.
We want to hear from you! What other benefits have you experienced with the growing diversity within the nursing profession? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or join the discussion on our Facebook Page.