Sustaining Nursing Diversity in Clinical Settings: Leadership and Minority Nurses

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 10:40 AM

Ronald Hickman, PhD, RN, ACNP-BC
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA


The alarmingly low representation of minority nurses in leadership positions poses significant public health concerns in the United States. As the demography of Americans continues to change, there has been minimal efforts to address the lack of diversity among its nurse leaders. Recognized for the potential to reduce health inequities, diversity in nursing leadership holds significant societal benefits for national and international communities.

Prevalence of Minority Leaders: The presenter will discuss prevalence of minority nurses in leadership positions in the United States. In 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that ethnic or racial minorities accounted for 37% of the American population and by 2043, ethnic and racially minority members will become a majority of the American population. Underrepresented racial minorities (e.g., Hispanic, Asian, African, and Native Americans) and men account for less than one-third of the American nursing workforce. According to the American Organization of Nurse Executives, less than 4% of American nurse executives were from an ethnic or racial minority group. National statistics on the prevalence of minority nurses in leadership positions will be presented.           

Known Barriers:  The presenter will discuss the known barriers that hinder racial minorities and other underrepresented individuals from assuming leadership positions in nursing. Nurses from underrepresented and disenfranchised groups face a sociocultural, institutional and systemic factors that contribute to discrimination. The discrimination that limits the numbers of underrepresented groups in nursing leadership is multilayered.  In the case of ethnic minorities, primary education is often inadequate thus limiting access to higher education or success in rigorous nursing programs. The number of minority nurses seeking graduate degrees and successfully graduating from those programs is on the decline.  The lack of ethnically diverse nurses with advanced degrees limits the available number of qualified diversity candidates in nursing leadership.  Minority nurses have reported limited opportunities for leadership in nursing and other report being placed in leadership positions with minimal preparation and support. Guided by the minority leadership model of Bessent and Fleming (2003), sociocultural and behavioral barriers will be discussed. 


Strategies Implemented:  The presenter will share examples of strategies used to enhance the  representation of minority nurses in leadership positions.  Strategies included targeted outreach efforts, faculty support and mentoring, quantitative assessment and evaluation measures, and recommendations for future programs.   Additionally targeted program that prepare, develop and nurture minority nurse leaders will be explored.  In particular the Leadership Enhancement and Development Project for Minority Nurses and the current and future Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s various nurse leadership programs.