Why Increasing Diversity in Nursing is Important

Why Increasing Diversity in Nursing is Important

Nursing strives to exceed the boundaries when it comes to providing patient care in the United States, and nursing leaders have long understood the importance of diversity in the workplace to obtain quality outcomes for their patients.

Over the last decade, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has dedicated efforts to diversify the workforce. The aim is to have adequate representation from all groups—including men and individuals from the African American, Alaskan Native, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and those of other backgrounds.

Improving nurse workforce diversity will help decrease health disparities and increase health equity so all people of all groups can be as healthy as possible. Because different populations often present symptoms dissimilarly or are predisposed to distinct conditions, it’s important for nursing schools and staff to gain a wider perspective on the patients they serve. In parallel, when nursing staff mirrors the population they serve, it’s common for patients to feel more trusting and comfortable discussing their personal concerns and symptoms.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers were surveyed in 2017 to look at the cultural makeup of the nursing pool. Registered Nurses (RN) from minority backgrounds represented 19.2% of the workforce.

The survey identified the RN ethnic backgrounds comprised of 80.8% white/Caucasian; 7.5% Asian; 6.2% African American; 5.3% Hispanic; 0.4% Native American/Alaskan Native; 0.5% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander; 1.7% Two or more races; and 2.9% other nurses. Of the total nursing workforce, men accounted for 9.9% of the workforce, up from 1.1% from 2015.

Elmhurst University, located just outside of Chicago, is committed to successfully recruiting and retaining their nursing students to meet the growing need in their communities. Elmhurst’s mission is to prepare nurses for professional practice and exceed leadership roles to meet the needs of a diverse society.

If you are looking for a new career path in high demand, a degree in nursing can launch you into a highly respected, satisfying, and financially stable profession. Elmhurst University understands the importance of providing high-quality nursing degrees in a timeframe that matches the workforce demand.

Find the Right Program for You

Elmhurst University offers a distance accelerated BSN nursing program for those who are ready to begin their nursing career today. Students complete all course requirements in less than 2 years. An online distance learning structure allows those living in remote areas to gain access to a high-quality nursing education. Furthermore, there are just two on-campus visits during the program, limiting the number of travel disruptions to students.

Elmhurst University nursing students

Elmhurst University nursing students.

The 16-month fast-track program prepares students to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. Elmhurst University is consistently above the national and state scoring averages on the NCLEX exam. In 2020, 90% of their BSN students passed the exam.

Elmhurst University’s application process is easy to access online. Apply today and take the first step to a rewarding career.

International Nurses Day: Graduating with Hope

International Nurses Day: Graduating with Hope

International Nurses Day on May 12 honors nurses worldwide with a day of celebration for all the work they do to care for patients, people in their communities, and those they know and love.

The past year has been one of tumult and exhaustion for nurses as the COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges and conditions that today’s nurses never worked through before. As Minority Nurse honors nurses around the world today, we thought hearing from a student nurse—one on the brink of starting a career path that has seen so much pain and joy in the past year—would give a perspective of the next generation of nurses on International Nurses Day 2021.

Twenty-year-old Bisola Ariyo is this year’s valedictorian for Howard University’s College of Nursing Class of 2021. Her work as a nursing student took on new meaning in the past year, she says, and only amplified the determination she’s always had to excel as a nurse.

As a student in Lagos, Nigeria, Ariyo earned a full scholarship to Howard University—where she dreamed of going. Originally, she (and her parents) thought she was going to pursue a med school track, but she realized her love of biology was suited for a different path.

“I did my first internship and my first clinical and I experienced that bedside, hands-on work,” she says. “Doctors don’t do that. Nurses build relationships and it’s a big responsibility when you think you’re the only advocate for this patient. They look to you for all sorts of things. It made me admire nurses, and I wanted to be just like them.”

Throughout her college years, her dedication never wavered and her scholarship was something she used as a guiding light. “I wanted to come here and be everything I was expected to be,” she says, noting that she’s a recent an inductee of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. “It drives everything I do. I wanted to make my parents proud and make myself proud.”

As the pandemic swept through the world during her junior year, Ariyo says everything changed. During those early days, her father became ill and while his illness was not related to COVID, it put her in a deeply empathetic place. “It gave me an idea of what people were going through in the pandemic,” she says. Her parents were far away and the feeling deeply unsettled her.

When her family saw the work she was doing thorough the pandemic, it changed their perspective. Hearing about Ariyo’s 12-hours shifts, her parents were concerned about her safety and if she had enough PPE. They understood the gravity of her work. “Now my mom tells everyone her daughter is a nurse,” Ariyo says. “Before that, she thought doctors were the most prestigious. She has the most respect for nurses now.”

This spring, when she found herself working at a vaccine clinic and giving so many shots every day, she says she was grateful. “I was vaccinating people who were so thankful to get the vaccine and who would now get to see their grandmothers or their friends,” she says. “I never envisioned giving vaccines all day was something I would ever be doing, but I hope to take that experience with me.”

Ariyo decided on her specialty path after a summer externship at Duke University Hospital Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit where she shadowed a nurse and performed pre-op and post-op care of children with congenital heart defects. She’s decided to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. “Every day was a joy,” she says of the experience. Whether she was seeing children get better or enduring the sadness when they didn’t, Ariyo says working with children was profoundly moving. “They are so resilient,” she says of children. “Being part of that every day made me realize that is what I want to do. And that is the patient population I want to serve.”

As Ariyo gained additional work, she also saw how crucial it is for the nursing industry to attract more minority nurses. “Nursing is definitely impacted by how representation matters to patient care,” she says. While on a post-Hurricane Maria alternative spring break program with Howard University in Puerto Rico, Ariyo says she noticed how a language barrier or residents’ general mistrust of the healthcare system influenced care. “The Black or brown people or people of color who don’t trust the healthcare system are looking for the Black person in the room because that’s the person that looks like them,” she says. “There’s a responsibility for me and a trust they have in me because I look like them.” The experience even gave rise to new goal—learning Spanish. “I felt bad when there was no interpreter in the room,” Ariyo says. “Minority nurses are so important.”

Being part of Howard University’s nursing school gives Ariyo deep pride. She has taken advantage of every opportunity and has worked as a mentor at an afterschool program; was a HU Geriatrics Lab student researcher on the Alzheimer’s research team; and is a member of the Comprehensive Medical Mentoring Program (CMMP) and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS).

Although she knows the work has been challenging, she sees herself reflected in her fellow graduates on this International Nurses Day. “My class is 42 strong incredible Black women,” preparing for a nursing career, she says. “I feel brave because I see all the other people in my class as brave as I am. And despite how much social unrest there has been, we can take solace in this future generation. It is a time for hope.”

Aisha Zalwango and National Student Nurses Day on May 8

Aisha Zalwango and National Student Nurses Day on May 8

As student nurses celebrate the May 8 designation of National Student Nurses Day, they have a lot to be proud of. This year, student nurses navigated through a tumultuous time while continuing to pursue their nursing education despite a global pandemic. The task was, and continues to be, enormous.

To mark National Student Nurses Day, Minority Nurse went right to the source. We asked Aisha Zalwango, who is currently finishing up her senior year at Regis College in Weston, Mass., what it’s like to be a student nurse in 2021. Her answers reflect the challenges of the past year and the hope many nursing students feel going forward.

Please tell me about what led you to go to nursing school.

Ever since I was a young girl in Uganda, I knew that I wanted to become a nurse because I love taking care of the sick, the disabled, and those who need my help. I am majoring in nursing because I want to become a great nurse who will give the best care to my patients. I believe that good care is the best gift one can ever give to someone who is sick and away from their family and friends.

What is your intended specialty?

My intended specialty is Intensive Care nursing (ICU). As a novice nurse, I want to start in medical-surgical nursing so that I can improve my nursing skills and get more experience working as a bedside nurse. After a year or two, I will transfer to Intensive Care nursing.

What has surprised you about being a nursing student?

The things that have surprised me about being a nursing student are the things that I have found out about the nursing profession. They include the following:

  • Nurses’ roles are not limited to patient care. After a few years of experience, some nurses take on administrative roles, while others become teachers to the next generation of nurses. There are those who become researchers and consultants in the healthcare field.
  • Nurses have a chance to specialize in a particular area of healthcare. The only requirement to specialize is to fulfill an additional education requirement which in some cases involves completing a master’s degree program.

Have you had a mentor or someone who has influenced you?

A lady whose mother I took care of when I had just come to America has greatly influenced my journey of becoming a nurse. Ever since she found out that I was in school for nursing, she has been encouraging me to keep going. She has always made me feel cared for even if I do not have family here in America. She always calls to check on me so that I do not feel alone. Her caring attitude has really made me feel that I matter.

Have the events of the past year and the pandemic influenced your studies or the way you see your future career at all?

Yes, the events in the past year and the pandemic have influenced my studies and the way I see my future career. When the pandemic was at its peak last year, school and classes were remote, and I could not get in touch with my study group. Some of my friends got sick from COVID-19, and we could not even meet or hang out for a long time. I felt very lonely and so sad because I spent most of my time by myself.

This pandemic taught me to stand strong through challenges and to keep going regardless of the situation, because accomplishing my goals requires such skill. Living in a pandemic so early on in my career, has assured me that I am where I need to be. It has influenced my future career in that I know how challenging this field can get and has assured me that I can handle it.

Through this pandemic, I have learned several essential nursing skills required to become a great nurse. From experience, working as a patient care associate in a community hospital, I have also learned that nurses should use the required precautions the right way in order to protect themselves and take good care of very sick patients without spreading infections. I now know what it takes to be a nurse and to be in this amazing field.

What has helped you succeed as a nursing student?

I am goal oriented. I set goals for myself which include small goals that I believe help me achieve my major goals. This type of skill has really helped me to focus on important tasks, with understanding expectations, and by giving me motivation to get my work done on time. I also organize my time well. I have time to study, time to work, and time to relax.

Being organized has helped me avoid being burned out. I am optimistic as well. Nursing school can be very challenging because preparing for exams, completing clinical hours, going to class, and managing other responsibilities can be overwhelming. However, I look at the bright side of it all. Instead of dwelling on challenging situations, I look for solutions, and I keep going because I am sure and I believe that there is a bright light ahead—in the end, I will be successful.

What are your next steps after graduation?

My major goal for after graduation is to get a nursing job so that I can start taking care of the sick and improve my nursing skills. Since learning in healthcare is ongoing, I will take on any opportunity that will come my way to further my education so that I can improve my professional experience in nursing practice. I also want to take part in various community healthcare projects. That way, I will be able to give back to my community through improving people’s health.

Don’t Be Afraid to Approach Faculty Members

Don’t Be Afraid to Approach Faculty Members

Whether you’re a brand-new nursing student or a nursing graduate student earning an advanced degree, working with faculty members will help you get as much as possible out of your higher ed years. Sometimes connecting with and learning from faculty members is easier said than done, but forming bonds with your professors can help you in many ways.

If you’re wondering how to best approach faculty members you admire, who are in your specialty, or who teach an especially difficult course, there are a few things to remember.

Take the Initiative

Don’t be afraid to talk to them. As a nursing student, you know your professors are busy and some of them can even be intimidating. But they decided on a career that includes teaching because they want to help others succeed in nursing. Approach them when they are available—good times during scheduled office hours. Ask if they have time to chat or if setting aside more time would fit their schedule. Bring your questions about the work in class or even ideas for relevant and independent projects outside the course requirements.

Know What They Can and Can’t Do

If you’re excited to find a faculty member whose research or career trajectory mirrors your own interests, know they will probably be an excellent resource for you. They might be able to help guide you on important projects, your research direction, or the soft skills (like how to make a great presentation or communicate effectively with your team) that career nurses need to excel. They might be able to introduce you to other nursing professionals across the globe who you can learn from as well. Don’t expect them to find a job for you, but they might be able to steer you in a direction where you’ll find opportunities like grant information or job openings.

Meet Their Standards

Professors want to work with driven and dedicated students. They don’t expect you to perform miracles, but your efforts will have more impact if you ask questions when you don’t understand something, show up on time, and follow up on outstanding tasks. If you’re working on a team, pull your weight and contribute to make the group’s work better. If you’re working independently, produce work that shows initiative and a real interest in the subject and turn it in on time. Professors expect high-quality work from nursing students, so check everything twice.

Say Thanks

Faculty members are in their roles so they can teach students, and they like to hear when a student appreciates their efforts. If a professor gives you an opportunity to present at a conference, participate in a paper, or follow a specific interest in a lab that’s not exactly part of the syllabus, be sure to thank them. A note or email is appreciated or you can just tell them how their encouragement made a difference and tell them “thank you for helping me.”

Keep in Touch

One of the special talents of many professors is their ability to remember students long after they have graduated. Often, you’ll find a moment in your career that reflects directly on a course you took and a professor who influenced you. Keeping in touch with professors who were particularly encouraging or knowledgeable is a great way to stay connected to people who changed your life and to build your network. You may even be able to offer something in return over the course of your own career.

Faculty members want to help their students. With some guidelines in place, approaching them can make all the difference in your academic work and even your career.

The FNSNA Announces a New Diversity Scholarship Award

The FNSNA Announces a New Diversity Scholarship Award

The Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association (FNSNA) is delighted to announce a new diversity scholarship award sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. Funding may be used for tuition, fees, and books. Use the same application to apply for all FNSNA scholarships. Students must complete the race/ethnicity question to qualify. There is $225,000 available. Awards up to $7,500.

The deadline to apply is February 15, 2021.

Qualifications

  • Pre-nursing students taking courses to prepare for matriculation into a nursing program
  • Attending classes and taking no less than six (6) credits per semester
  • Involvement in student nursing organizations and/or community health activities
  • Document academic achievement
  • Establish financial need
  • U.S. Citizen or Alien with U.S. Permanent Resident Status/Alien Registration Number
  • High school students are not eligible to apply
  • Funds are not available for graduate study unless it is for a first degree in nursing

FNSNA Scholarship Application Instructions

Read carefully. Failure to follow all instructions may result in disqualification.

  1. Complete all sections on the online application.
  2. Eligibility: ​Undergraduate scholarships are available to students currently enrolled in a state-approved nursing program leading to an associate degree, baccalaureate, diploma, direct-entry master’s degree, RN to BSN/MSN completion, LPN/LVN to RN, or accelerated programs. Funds are not available for graduate study unless it is for a first degree in nursing
  3. Action Item: Submission Fee: a non-refundable $10 submission fee must be paid via Stripe ​(Link to Stripe is within the online scholarship application)
  4. Action Item: the Clinical Instructor/Faculty Advisor of your program must complete the ​​Clinical Instructor/Faculty Advisor Certification Form. Please remember to put your name on this section. ​
  5. Action Item: The school/college Financial Aid Representative must complete the Financial Aid Certification form.
  6. Action Item: An unofficial transcript must be uploaded prior to submitting your application. In addition, grade reports for the fall semester are acceptable if not reported on the transcript.
  7. Possible Action ItemMembers of the National Student Nurses’ Association who wish to be considered for scholarships open only to NSNA members, must include membership number.  NSNA Board of Directors and Nominating and Elections Committee are ineligible.
  8. Possible Action ItemStudents entering LPN/LVN to RN; or RN to BSN/MSN completion programs immediately upon graduation from associate degree or diploma programs must submit a letter of acceptance with the application or official confirmation that the application has been received by the new school.  Proof of licensure and enrollment must be provided at the time the scholarship award check is issued.
  9. Eligibility: Applicants must be a U.S. Citizen or Alien with U.S. Permanent Resident Status or hold an Alien Registration Number.
  10. Possible Action ItemIf you have been employed as an RN, attach a copy of your resume and license.
  11. All checks are made payable to the school towards the account of the scholarship recipient.  Scholarship money will be used to offset the cost of tuition, academic fees and books only.
  12. Funds not used by the end of the scholarship-funding period are to be returned to FNSNA.
  13. Do not include information that is not requested.  Do not include photos.
  14. Only complete applications will be considered. The Selection Committee does not accept separate documents after the application has been received.
  15. All applicants will be notified of a decision in March.

To learn more, visit: https://www.forevernursing.org/2021-online-scholarship-applicationinstructional-sheet.html

 

Apply – 2021 Online Scholarship Application
Pursuing a Career in Nursing: The Beginning

Pursuing a Career in Nursing: The Beginning

There are currently nearly 4 million nurses working within the health care industry of the United States. It is the largest health care profession in the country, and for good reason. Nurses make a difference. They are often the first point of contact for anyone seeking medical attention, and they tend to go above and beyond what is typically asked or required of them.

Even though it is the top health care profession, there is always a growing need for nurses. Thankfully, it’s one of the easiest careers to pursue. Nursing courses are offered almost everywhere, including online, and once you’ve completed your coursework you can enter the workforce quickly. Plus, you can choose your own specialty, depending on your interests or passion.

Nurses also have the opportunity to work almost anywhere in the world, and job security will always be there. But, if you’re already interested in pursuing a career in nursing, you likely already have your own reasons to make it your life’s work.

The better question is, how should you get started? What should you expect as you go through your undergraduate studies, and which career path should you take when it’s time to make that choice?

Getting the Education You Need

The amount of education and training you’ll need to become a nurse depends on what type of nurse you’d like to be. For example, to become a Registered Nurse (RN), you’ll need a minimum of an Associate’s Degree.

If you’re already an RN or if you want to pursue something higher, consider getting your BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) at a four-year university or institution. No matter what degree completion you go through, everyone entering the nursing field needs to complete the NCLEX. This is an exam that is required by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. You’ll need to apply to take the exam through the state in which you plan on working. A passing grade is required to become an RN, and the categories include:

  • Safe, effective care environment
  • Psychosocial integrity
  • Physiology integrity
  • Health promotion

Once you are an RN or have received your BSN, you can decide whether you’d like to choose a specialty or continue your education to become a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners must complete a Master of Science in Nursing program (MSN). On top of your previous education, the entire timeline can take anywhere from 6-8 years. If you haven’t yet started your educational journey toward becoming a nurse, it’s never too early. Some nursing programs are available online (at least partially). If you know nursing is your passion, you can begin to take courses early and gain experience that will help you once you find yourself in the workforce.

Facing the Realities of Nursing

No matter what level or area of nursing you decide to pursue, there are a few truths you’ll need to understand before you get started. Maybe you’ve been passionate about becoming a nurse since you were a child. Those passions and dreams don’t have to be “squashed,” but knowing as much as possible about the realities of nursing before you break into the field can help you determine if it’s really the right career for you.

First, it’s important to understand that you will always come second. That’s actually one of the reasons many people become nurses: to provide service to others. Doing so can help you to feel fulfilled and satisfied with your work. But, that doesn’t mean it will always be easy. Some potential “drawbacks” to keep in mind about a nursing career include:

  • You’re constantly on your feet, which can cause muscle aches and pains, or even lead to varicose veins.
  • If you work in a busy hospital, you may have irregular hours.
  • Nurses are at a high risk of experiencing workplace burnout.
  • It can sometimes be a “thankless job”.
  • Entry-level RNs only make an average of $41,000 per year.

Nursing can be a demanding profession, depending on where you work. But, most people stay in that profession for years because the rewards outweigh any of the disadvantages. It helps to have certain traits and characteristics to enjoy nursing as a long-term career. You have to enjoy working with different types of people every day and be willing to be a major component in a functional team.

How to Land a Great Nursing Job

Once you’ve completed your education and received your certification to become a nurse, the next step is to find the right job. Thankfully, due to the high demand for nurses across the country, your qualifications will often be enough for you to get hired quickly. Nurses are needed in a variety of settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Local government agencies

Think about the type of setting that would be a good fit for you before applying to different open positions. You may want to start somewhere small to gain experience, especially if you eventually want to continue your training toward a specialty.

Networking is just as important in the health care industry as it is in other business sectors. If you know anyone in the industry, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and market yourself to land a job. Many times, getting the job you want is about “who you know”, so use your connections wisely.

Finally, think about some of the most common questions you could be asked during a job interview. While it’s important to practice your answers for the interview itself, you can also gain more insight into what you really want to achieve out of your career. What are your goals? Why did you want to become a nurse? What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses? By understanding some of those things about yourself, you will have more direction in where you want to take your career.

Nursing is one of the oldest, most stable professions in the country, and it’s still seeing continuous growth. If you are pursuing a career in nursing, keep these ideas in mind to continue your forward progress, and know what to expect as you start your first job.

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