What are some reasons you do not disclose your race or ethnicity? Have you ever felt better not responding to this information? Why or why not?  I know I have never felt like I should go back in an application and check the box as being Black or African American. There has been a certain level of gratification of going into an interview without this information being disclosed. I remember getting rejection letters and wait list letters from universities and often thought why when explanation was not given except for the high number of applicants. As a registered nurse with experience and higher than a B average in all undergraduate studies these questions often surfaced. Was I not selected due to information disclosed about my background? One starts to wonder when meeting exceeding the minimum qualifications.

There is a great feeling of being considered for employment or chosen for a nursing program by review of my accolades from my curriculum vitae without my race and ethnicity being accounted for. The question of demographic reporting was brought up in a meeting last week. The question was asked about why some students do not check this box when applying to nursing programs. Is this information necessary to disclose? Why should they disclose?

Should students have to be asked this information or encouraged to do so? My first thought was this demographic data is great reporting to nursing program accreditation. However, currently diversity in students and faculty is reviewed but, not a criteria that will impact a nursing programs ability to obtain accreditation. What made me feel uncomfortable in this conversation was that only one other faculty could answer the question for the most likely cause along with myself as to why these questions are often left unanswered. It is hard to fathom that itself racism and structural racism barriers continue to exist in higher education.

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Students of color may fear a difference in treatment or not getting acceptance into the program if they chose to disclose. We have to continue working toward breaking barriers in the area of structural racism. This is an example of a potential bias that may be occurring to students from diverse backgrounds. We must continue to have faculty from diverse backgrounds available to mentor these students and who look like them in university settings.

Another question would be do we eliminate this information from the applications. Is this discriminatory in any way? Should the results be seen only from an administrative view? There are so many questions about why this information is used. We could potentially limit who see’s this data. Admissions committees should be limited on this information so that implicit bias are not occurring.

Yvette Lowery, DNP, MSN/Ed, FNP-c, CCRN, CEN, PCCN
Latest posts by Yvette Lowery, DNP, MSN/Ed, FNP-c, CCRN, CEN, PCCN (see all)
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