Walters, Dr. Delores
Nursing, College of
Nursing; Culture; Professional; Organization; Academic; Student
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An ethnically diverse nursing workforce has been linked to higher access/quality of care to persons of color. It is paramount that our nursing students of color understand how their cultural competency can advance the nursing profession. As a former student nurse fellow, I had the opportunity to learn how the oversight of a patient’s cultural background could negatively impact the care provided to the patient. As a result, my project involves the creation of an organization that establishes a supportive network for our culturally diverse nursing students. Ultimately, promoting the appreciation of cultural identities will also influence the larger College of Nursing (CON) student body in understanding how diversifying the workforce positively affects patient care. Although I was unable to link the premise that the proposed organization will increase retention or recruitment of minority nursing students directly in the literature, it is clear that in order to increase the number of future nurses from diverse backgrounds, it is essential to promote academic and social supports to ensure student success. Therefore, my project recognizes and appreciates our various cultural identities as a model for promoting access/quality of care to patients from diverse backgrounds.
The African, Latin, Asian, Native American (ALANA) Student Nurses of URI is the first organization to promote cultural awareness for our students in the College of Nursing. Its purpose is to prepare students to face challenges pertaining to cultural inclusion, equity and competency in the CON as well as in their practice as professional nurses. The three primary functions of the group are preparedness towards becoming a professional nurse; education/community involvement in health disparities; and outreach to students at the middle/high school level about the choice of nursing as a career.
The steps involved in creating the ALANA student nurses of URI include gaining recognition by the Student Senate and CON. Great efforts have been made in working with both to ensure recognition. This incorporates the selection of 2015-2016 officers, obtaining CON faculty support, and solidifying financial assistance for future projects. Because of the level of participation from students and enthusiasm from CON faculty and staff, I anticipate that there has been a foundation set for continued growth and sustainability. There are also possible events with health professional student organizations for mutually supportive activities. This includes interdisciplinary work with students from various health disciplines at the medical school of Brown University. Our outreach to high school students at the Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College motivates these students to reach their aspirations. Lastly, presentations from coordinators within the RI Department of Health and local nurse leaders will expose students to programs and ideas for addressing health disparities affecting persons of color within the state of Rhode Island. Essentially, this project begins the process of discerning how cultural diversity relates to student success within the CON that will enhance professional nursing practice.