How Can Nursing Homes Increase Diversity?

Diversity is an increasingly important concern in many workplaces, and the nursing care industry is no exception. There has been a global push for equal opportunity and affirmative action over the past few decades, but we are still far from achieving true diversity in most work settings.

It is in a nursing facility’s best interests to ensure a more diverse and tolerant workplace. Discrimination claims can be disastrous for a company’s reputation, affecting its profitability and ability to continue operations. And while nursing home insurance can pay for settlement costs and legal fees arising from such claims, the facility may never fully regain its good standing in the community it serves.

But more than just helping nursing homes avoid potential lawsuits, encouraging and instilling diversity can help them provide the best quality of care services possible. By accepting workers from a broader range of backgrounds, care facilities could benefit from the skills and knowledge of healthcare professionals they wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

It is also worth noting that patients tend to be more comfortable with nurses that belong to the same demographic. This was revealed in a Joint Commission study on cultural diversity in the nursing industry.

Unfortunately, many obstacles stand in the way of achieving genuine diversity in the nursing care workplace. Nurses belonging to minority groups face severe inequality issues even during admission to nursing schools. Just as alarmingly, the barriers confronting them during their education and professional careers often result in long-lasting consequences.

How do we deal with these racial inequities? What can your clients do to address the lack of diversity in the workplace? One proposal gaining ground in recent years is the inclusion of minority nurse leaders in admissions and hiring stages. It is also crucial to consider factors other than test scores and focus on transforming performance into possibility before rejecting minority applicants.

Stephanie Wroten has intimate knowledge of the struggles that minority nurses face throughout their educational and professional career paths. As chief nursing officer of the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, Wroten has experienced many of these issues firsthand.

According to Wroten, many of the problems are rooted in nursing school admissions processes, during which students of color are often automatically excluded. This inequity continues through the education and career stages when many minorities are subjected to micro-aggressions from different sectors. This often results in a significantly inhibited career trajectory.

Wroten admits that some progress has been made in addressing these issues. Even so, the CNO emphasizes that there are still many obstacles to overcome.

A look at the statistics for nursing graduates in 2019 is quite revealing. A report entitled The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity showed that only 8.7% of all B.S. Nursing degree holders for the year were Black. Only 10.2% were Hispanic, and 7.9% were Asian. In contrast, 63.6% of all graduates were white.  

In an interview with HealthLeaders, Wroten spoke at length about the challenges faced by many minority nurses. For the CNO, this begins during admission, where the lack of other nurses of color hinders the understanding of the process. This often results in the same imbalance in the classroom.

Wroten also shared her thoughts on how having more nurses of color during admissions could help ensure better representation. For her, nurses tasked with making decisions would go beyond test scores and have a keener understanding of the educational handicaps that many students of color experience.

One example that Wroten brought up is the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS). A multiple-choice exam given to nursing schools applicants in the U.S., the test is often a significant factor in determining eligibility to a nursing program. Because of their generally poor TEAS scores, minority students often fail to make the cut.

But Wroten emphasizes the value of transforming performance into possibility. With more minority representation in the admissions process, students with exemplary prerequisite coursework may be considered for support programs despite having a low TEAS score. This simple step could pave the way for a satisfactory nursing career.

Many other challenges get in the way of a more diverse and equitable nursing workforce. It will take a sustained effort lasting many years before all these obstacles are eliminated. Nevertheless, having more nurses of color participate in the admissions process is a significant step in the right direction. 

About Caitlin Morgan

Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.