Last Saturday, as part of a program called “Minority Nurse Leadership in the 21st Century,” about 100 minority nurses from all around California met at Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno to discuss the role of nurses in patient advocacy and leadership. According to statistics, 40 percent of the California population are Latino while only 7 percent of the nurses statewide are Latino, proving the need for more minority nurses in California.
A 2014 Board of Nursing report from the California State Board of Registered Nursing reported that Latinos will continue to be underrepresented and become even more underrepresented in the nursing workforce in the future. African American nurses are also expected to be underrepresented until 2030, while all other racial groups continue to be overrepresented compared to the general population.
The number of white nurses in the workforce has declined from 77.2 percent in 1990 to 51.6 percent in 2014. This decline leaves the most highly represented nonwhite group of nurses as Filipinos at 20.3 percent of the workforce, with non-Filipino Asian nurses at 8.5 percent, and black nurses at about 5 percent.
Pilar De La Cruz-Reyes, a member of the California State Board of Registered Nursing and director of the Central California Center for Excellence in Nursing at Fresno State, says the purpose of the minority nurse meeting in Fresno was to get more minority nurses into leadership positions so they can serve as role models and mentors to minority students who want to go into nursing but don’t see a realistic way to get there.
Kimberly Horton, chief executive officer at Vibra Hospital of Sacramento, says that nursing is an opportunity that many Latinos have never thought about so nursing programs need to be marketed to that population, and using minority nurses to educate their peers about the nursing profession is a great way to get started. Horton is an African American registered nurse and she was one of five speakers at the Fresno meeting.
Minority nurses can be wonderful advocates for patients, bringing a special understanding of health beliefs that are ethically, culturally, and religiously based and that can have a real effect on patient health. By including nurses who represent ethnic groups in the development of patient health care plans, health care teams can better develop logical plans for treatment that won’t negatively impact the health of minority patients due to common misunderstandings or misperceptions that patients have about their health and treatment.