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Narrowing Racial Disparities in Nursing

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, October 30, 2012

Despite ongoing efforts to improve nursing diversity, minorities continue to be underrepresented in the nursing profession. But over the past few weeks, I've read about several scholarships and grants that aim to increase the ranks of minority nurses.

In other news, I also learned about a study which shows that high nurse workloads disproportionately affect older black patients. On the surface, these two pieces of information seem unrelated, or at least seem only superficially related because they both involve race in some way.

Taken together, however, they are striking because they not only illustrate how racial disparities play out in the nursing world, but they show the need for increasing the number of nurses out there.

The nursing workload study calls for more nurses on the floor, and opening up access to nursing education to more candidates will help.

Let's first look at the nursing workload study, which comes out of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Researchers studied more than 548,000 patients ages 65 and older who underwent general, orthopedic, or vascular surgery in 599 hospitals in California, Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Of the patients, 94% were white and 6% were black.

The data, gleaned from  nearly 30,000 hospital staff nurses working directly in patient care, showed that older black patients are three times more likely than older white patients to suffer poorer outcomes after surgery, including death, when cared for by nurses with higher workloads.

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2 comments on "Narrowing Racial Disparities in Nursing"


DV (11/5/2012 at 2:58 PM)
Thank you for educating the public on the disparity between healthcare professionals & the populaltions they serve. The latesst Census figures cannot deny the fact the ethnic diversity has & is projected to continue to increase. Fact in cultural competence is that quality outcomes result when cultures match up or at least can become sensitive & educated to the cultures served. I know this hurts feelings, but that is why we have health disparities. This is by no mean affirmative action. I suggest those who are offended get educated & updated in health disparities and cultural competency. Thank you again for this informative article!

Ryan St.Michael (10/30/2012 at 6:56 PM)
1)Diversity(the artist formerly known as affirmative action) is racial discrimination. 2)The US Supreme Court is about to outlaw this form of affirmative action/diversity because it unconstitutional(read the 14th amendment.) 3) There is already a massive pool of qualified individuals of all races waiting to get into nursing school but no space is available. 4)The color of the skin of the nurse caring for a patient has zero bearing on the recovery from illness. 5) How is it possible to write one article so overloaded with false assumptions, non sequitur , and just plain fantasy parading as fact?