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The existence of healthcare workforce diversity is essential in ensuring improved wellness of all citizens. Experts argue that a workforce that reflects ethnic and racial diversity enhances access to care as well as improving the care quality. Compared to their counter-parts, the minority care providers are known to give more care to the poor and mainly work in areas where there are limited number of healthcare personnel (Wisconsin Center for Nursing, 2013). Diversity in the workforce promotes understanding of health beliefs and methods of the minority communities, hence enabling good communication. Proper communication ensures that the care provided to such individuals do not contradict their beliefs and that both the patient and family members are accorded respect. It is, therefore, important to incorporate a diverse workforce in healthcare to provide improved wellness in the minority communities. Research has shown that enhanced diversity in healthcare professions gives a high ability to provide culturally sensitive care. This paper explores the approaches that the California Board of Registered Nurses use to handle the lack of diversity in nursing and the effectiveness of these approaches.
Lack of Diversity in California’s Healthcare
California, just like other parts of the nation has previously faced a big challenge regarding the shortage of healthcare providers. Hospitals have few nurses, especially those of the minority communities. This necessitates strategies that can help curb this menace. In 2001, the California Board of Registered Nurses in conjunction with the Hospital Association of Southern California launched an initiative to assess how a collaboration between academic institutions and hospitals can help address the shortage (Waneka, Spetz, & Philip, 2013). This initiative went ahead to assess diversity within the nursing community. Before the start of the initiative, more focus had been made on the continuous shortage of registered nurses and the cost implications as well as the effects on the overall health care system over the country. To handle the issue of diversity in workplace, the California Board of Registered Nurses used two main approaches. These are improving the educational pipelineand promoting student diversity.
Compared to other states, nurses per capita in California is quite low. This is despite that hospitals in the state have been recruiting foreign nurses for a couple of years. More than 50% of the registered nurses got their education in foreign countries, and this shows that the California education system is not adequate to provide enough nurses. It is observed that many students have an interest in the nursing profession, but most nursing programs have long lists of qualified students who are awaiting admission. The Board has, therefore, increased the capacity of the programs to ensure that the nurses enrolled and graduated can be able to fill the existing gap and that created by the retiring nurses (Wisconsin Center for Nursing, 2013). This approach has become successful, and the current programs in California can accommodate as many students as possible and a higher percentage successfully graduate from the programs. Strategies have also been put in place to ensure that students who enrol for the nursing program successfully complete the course.
Over time, five categories have been adopted in analyzing ethnic diversity. These include White, Black, Filipino, Asian, and Hispanic. These categories are an abstract combination of other different groups, hence may not necessarily imply true ethnic diversity. The ability of California Registered Nurses to give ethnically and culturally sensitive services depends on the language skills of the workforce (Waneka, Spetz, & Philip, 2013). Furthermore, diversity in the nursing field is an indication of progress in giving the young generation an opportunity to get a post-secondary education and venture into the nursing profession. The Board of Registered Nurses has put in place strategies that ensure that students admitted to nursing schools are chosen from diverse ethnic and cultural societies.
Since 2005, data obtained from the registered nursing programs show that there has been increasing diversity in the new students enrolling for the nursing programs. This implies that over time, the nurses in the healthcare will be diverse. The ethnic minorities in the nursing programs that earned a degree since that time to date show that there has been an increasing trend (Waneka, Spetz, & Philip, 2013). The increase was achieved due to the increasing Asian students who have continuously enrolled in the nursing programs. The Hispanics have remained constant while that of the Blacks and Filipinos have been decreasing though at a very small rate.
The racial minorities who have enrolled in nursing programs show that on average, 88% Asians and 85% Whites who began the program were able to finish. Only 68% of Blacks completed the program. The Black registered nurses are, therefore, underrepresented. The racial representation of nurses who are currently graduating from nursing programs shows that the variations will be experienced for the coming few decades (Davis, Davis, & Williams, 2010). However, the current number of minority nurses will be sufficient because the number of old nurses who are due to retire is much lower than the young nurses. This approach of ensuring diversity has been fruitful to the nursing community in California. It is expected that the number of Hispanic nurses will surpass that of the Whites and will dramatically grow over the next four decades.
American Nurses Association (2001). Effective strategies for increasing diversity in nursing programs. Retrieved from: <http://www.aacn.nche.edu/aacn-publications/issue-bulletin/effective-strategies/>
This publication by the American Nurses Association appreciates the need for diversity in the nursing profession. It acknowledges that if the educational pipeline does not encourage diversity, then the workforce will reflect a similar situation. This publication comes up with several ways of enhancing diversity in the healthcare sector. These approaches include presenting an inclusive image where brochures among other cues are used to communicate to the audience and images of nurses from diverse ethnic and cultural groups used to persuade the minority groups to join the nursing programs.
Another approach suggested is the recruitment of students from all walks of life where recruiters are placed in all areas.