Growing Our Own: Mentoring Talented and Diverse Students Toward a Career in Nursing Education and Clinical Leadership

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 10:20 AM

Felesia Renee Bowen, PhD, RN, PC-PNP, BC
School of Nursing, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Jackson, NJ, USA

Abstract: The Center for Urban Youth and Families (CUYF) aims to address health disparities through interdisciplinary research.  We believe that an inter-professional research center is one way of making in-roads to improving the health and future of our most vulnerable children and families.  Center members disregard the boundaries of disciplines and work collaboratively with colleagues from other schools and community agencies to explore and develop best practice guidelines.  Additionally CUYF acts as an incubator for future nurse clinicians, leaders and educators by recruiting, developing and mentoring students to address various problems of health disparity.

Addressing Cultural Mis-match: The presenter will address the lack of workforce diversity and how it impacts the health of minority citizens. In the United States, health inequities persist with African American and Latinos bearing the largest burden of negative health effects associated with chronic diseases. It’s no secret that African Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented in nursing.  There has been a steady decline in minority enrollment in basic nursing programs when compared to enrollment of Caucasian students. This phenomenon of declining enrollment continues to exacerbate the current patient-provider cultural mismatch.  Cultural mis-match can result in continuing health disparities in access and quality health care for minority populations.  Increasing the number for underrepresented students in nursing will address the root-cause issues of disparity as outlined in the Institute of Medicine’s report, Unequal Treatment.  We believe addressing this issue requires a two pronged approach.  First, schools of nursing must make a conscious effort to recruit, retain and develop underrepresented students. Once students are in nursing programs it is incumbent upon administration to provide the necessary support for the students to be successful.  Second, diverse faculty must be available to mentor and provide growth opportunities for these students.  Again there must be a conscious effort on the behalf of administrators to recruit and retain faculty from diverse backgrounds. 

Providing Opportunities: The presenter will discuss barriers to hands on research opportunities in undergraduate nursing programs.  This is often the result of a packed nursing curriculum, and lack of opportunity to interact with faculty who are involved in research.  Honors students are provided opportunities to work with faculty but in most cases African American and Hispanic students are very underrepresented in this cohort.  Graduate nursing students are often educated in cohort programs where students come to campus for a full of day of academics and then they leave until the following week.  Under represented students may find it difficult to connect with faculty who are culturally similar or they may be intimidated to reach out.  Junior faculty may complain that they have limited time and resources for research activities and are therefore reluctant to work with undergraduate students because they do not have prior experience and require more “investment”.

CUYF Model: The presenter will discuss the concept of up and down mentorship within the center.  In this model, center fellows are mentored by senior faculty and researchers and they in turn mentor graduate and undergraduate students. CUYF fellows recruit underrepresented nursing students for involvement with center activity. Students are provided opportunities to learn about various research opportunities that faculty are involved in (most are community based with vulnerable populations). Special invitations are sent to students in the Educational Opportunity Program that is comprised of underrepresented and disadvantaged nursing students. This approach has been extremely successful. Fellows also identify and recommend “stars” for special leadership opportunities with community partners and state agencies.  We will discuss other programs that encourage and support the development of future nursing faculty and clinical leaders.