The Role of Ethnic Nursing Organizations in Developing Future Nurse Leaders

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 4:20 PM

Maria Matza, PhD, RN, PHN
School of Nursing, California State University Fullerton, Fullerton, CA, USA
Maryanne Garon, DNSc, MSN, RN, PHN
Department of Nursing, California State University Fullerton, Fullerton, CA, USA




The aim of this qualitative descriptive study was to explore the role of ethnic nursing organizations in developing their members for leadership.

Rationale/Conceptual Basis/Background

There is a disparity between the ethnic makeup of the US population, and those of nurse, nurse leaders and nursing faculty members. While the US population is 63% non-Hispanic whites and California only 42% non-Hispanic whites (US Census Bureau 2012 statistics), the nursing profession is more than 83% non-Hispanic white (HRSA report, 2010). Amongst nursing leadership and nursing faculty members, the disparity is even greater. “Only 12.3 % of full time nursing faculty members are coming from minority backgrounds” (AACN report). In order to foster diversity amongst nursing leaders and nursing faculty, it is desirable to encourage minority nurses to develop for these roles. One source of mentoring and development might be found in the ethnic or minority nurse organizations. Since this has not been the focus of research in nursing to date, a qualitative study using content analysis method was conducted.


The research team conducted in depth interviews of nurses who held membership for at least 3 years in one of the ethnic nursing organizations. Focus of these interviews was aimed at discovering how the organization helped them develop in their career, provided mentorship or encouraged them in continuing education or seeking leadership. Qualitative content analysis methods was utilized to analyze results. Transcribed interviews were analyzed by the team and initial coding done, identifying specific words and phrases. The research team then grouped together the words and phrases into categories of data. From the review of the emerging categories, themes were found and a model was created.



Fifteen participants were interviewed. Four participants interviewed were members of their local Philippine Nurses Association, six were from the Black Nurses Associations, and five from the Hispanic Nurses Association. Three male and 12 female nurses participated, with ages ranging from 32 – 65 and years in nursing from 15-33. Education levels range from BSN to Ph.D.

Analysis indicates that these organizations provide opportunities for leadership, mentoring and encouragement to the members. The participants noted comfort and a sense of community and “home” from being with persons from similar backgrounds. “You don’t have to explain where you come from” one participant reported. However, others noted that it is “not enough” and mentors are found in other professional organizations, also. A key finding is the importance of community and “giving back” to their communities as strength of these organizations. 


It is important to understand factors that help to both retain and develop nurses as leaders.  Many factors have been considered, but thus far, no one has looked at the ethnic nursing organizations as a potential source in contributing to this development. As noted, this is an area with virtually no research. The ethnic nursing organizations play an important role in developing nurse leaders. Understanding and disseminating the role of these organizations might lead to future considerations of they can contribute to increasing the diversity of nursing leadership and faculty.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2014). Fact sheet: Enhancing diversity in nursing. Retrieved from

Health Resources and Services Administration. (2010). The registered nurse population: Findings from the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses. Retrieved from

U.S. Census Bureau (2012). Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012 (131st Edition). Washington, DC, 2011. Retrieved from: