Encapsulating 15 years of anything is difficult. How to summarize the life of Minority Nurse, a publication not only concerned with the profession of nursing and all its struggles and rewards, but also inextricably linked to the challenges and benefits of being a minority? Issues tied to the personal as well as the professional? For the past 15 years, we have tried to balance these facets of nursing.
Minority Nurse is more than a niche professional publication, more personal than your typical industry magazine. It has been, and always will be, a forum for minority populations, a place for advocacy, and a venue highlighting minorities’ unique insights.
When minorities living in the United States comprise well over one-third of the population, but the number of minority nurses hovers around 11%, we still have work to do. Yet, we’ll never limit the scope of the word “minority” to racial or ethnic boundaries. Wherever a nurse is statistically underrepresented—whether he is one of the approximately 6% of male nurses in a female-dominated profession; a nurse with disabilities; or a GLBT nurse—this is their forum too.
A number of the issues we cover are perennial favorites, like assessments of the nursing workforce and job market. Then again, many topics simply need to be addressed repeatedly, such as dealing with health disparities and prejudices in the workplace. But the repetition is necessary; talking about such issues keeps them at the forefront of people’s minds. As long as inequalities persist, we must keep the dialogue going.
We have been fortunate to see growth and progress in pay parity and health care initiatives over the life of the magazine. However, with the country in an economic gridlock, the number of those with health insurance has plummeted, particularly in minority communities, where economic inequalities are most apparent. Even more troubling is the subsequent decline in the quality of life in those areas.
We have chronicled the inequalities affecting not just minority nurses, but minority communities as well. The 1990s were a period of growth for many African American and Hispanic families, with median incomes rising an average 2.2% and 1.5%, respectively, each year, but the 2000s saw a steady decline (around 1%), according to the Center for American Progress. As many minority nurses practice in their communities or venture to communities in need, they encounter economic disparities firsthand.
Beyond the scope of the hospital, nurses play a unique role in their communities, so even if you work in a facility where “minority” nurses are actually the majority, you may still return to a neighborhood where widespread economic inequalities still exist. In an impoverished urban neighborhood, the school nurse may be the only health care resource available—not just for the school children, but for their parents and the surrounding community as well. These nurses serve as child advocates and impart crucial health care knowledge about everything from nutrition to hygiene.
The challenge is solving these problems, but you, our readers, have been phenomenal in sending us research papers and narratives detailing solutions. In every issue, we hope to provide such solutions, such as resources for nurses teaching ESL students, the effects of mentoring on minority nurse retention, and the benefits of online education for Hispanic nurse recruitment.
Our readership is indeed a remarkable group. You represent every specialty, from ICU third-shifters to flight nurses deployed overseas. You are every age, from recent graduates to established veterans looking for a career change. And you’re redefining the field, as you move from the bedside to boardrooms, business, and the halls of Congress.
You have proven yourselves consummate caregivers, passionate about your work as you improve the lives of others at home and abroad. In the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, you were there for your fellow Americans. After the tsunamis in Southeast Asia and the earthquake in Haiti, you traveled overseas to aid those in need. You’ve also gone into your neighborhoods to educate and advocate for your profession, speaking with children from grade school to high school, to inspire the nurses of tomorrow.
What’s on the horizon? As 2011 progresses and the economy continues its tumult, we will cover the impact on nurses and the communities they serve. We will explore the impending nursing shortage and focus on recruiting nurse educators to train the next generation of caregivers. Finally, we hope to explore the diversity of hospitals across the country through research and the input of readers like you.
To hope for a long future for Minority Nurse is not a wish for continued disparities, nor is it a wish for a workplace where we pretend everyone is the same. Diversity isn’t about ignoring our differences, but acknowledging and celebrating them. Likewise, the patient population will never be a homogeneous group with homogenous care needs. Even if “minority” issues fade, minority nurses impart cultural competency that leads to higher quality care for all patients. Those with life experience can share their knowledge with anyone willing to learn. And we will continue to be your forum.