HRSA’s mission to improve health and attain health equity through a skilled and diverse workforce is an important one. Research demonstrates that having a health profession workforce that reflects the diversity of the population that it serves benefits the community and healthcare organizations. This is reflected in improved patient satisfaction, better communication between patients and caregivers, and more access to healthcare services (HRSA, 2017).
Minorities in health professions and the profession of nursing are essential to improving these outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities who suffer from many health disparities. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infant mortality, homicide-related deaths, and other illnesses impact racial and ethnic minorities at greater rates than the majority population (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017).
While health disparities are complex and multifactorial, they can be improved when persons of racial and ethnic minority backgrounds are the caregivers and healthcare leaders who share a common language and other lived experiences and ethnicities with patients. Those patients feel greater comfort and trust and it can improve diagnostics and patient treatment. Having a minority nurse as the patient educator may also foster better self-management. Minority nurses in leadership roles are positioned to influence resource allocation and ensure those resources reach vulnerable groups. They can develop and influence policy at the organizational, local, and national level aimed at eliminating health disparities.
Patients are more likely to trust providers who are like themselves, and they favor diverse organizations that deliver culturally competent care. Organizations with leadership teams that do not reflect the communities they serve are not equipped to decrease racial and ethnic health disparities. Not only are minority nurse leaders needed to engage in the important work of improving the health of our diverse population, but they are also uniquely poised to successfully carry out this mission.
Unfortunately, minority nurses face significant barriers to becoming nurse leaders. Identifying these barriers is essential to developing and sustaining a diverse cadre of minority nurse leaders.
Authored by Khaliah Fisher-Grace, PhD(c), MSN, RN, CPHQ, PCCN-K
If you are struggling with a concept or terminology in the course, you may contact NurseLeaderSupport@capella.edu for assistance.
If you are having technical issues, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.