Cultural Diversity in Nursing Education

Cultural Diversity in Nursing Education: Perils, Pitfalls, and Pearls

Hedi Bednarz, MSN, ACNS-BC, CNE, Stephanie Schim, PhD, RN, PHCNS-BC, and Ardith Doorenbos, PhD, RN Ms. Bednarz is Clinical Instructor and Dr. Schim is Associate Professor, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan; and Dr. Doorenbos is Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Abstract Increasing diversity in the classroom challenges nursing educators to identify issues that complicate teaching (perils), analyze barriers for themselves and their students (pitfalls), and select new strategies for working with nontraditional students (pearls). This article identifies concerns arising from attitudes and values within nursing and common approaches to diversity education and then discusses key issues in nursing education that relate to human nature, culture, faculty workload, and student demographics. Finally, some strategies are proposed for increasing the effectiveness of professional preparation with diverse students through a focus on culturally congruent education and development of faculty cultural competence.

With expanding immigration, increasing globalization, and minority population growth, there is a need to enrich the diversity within the nursing profession to better meet the needs of our changing society (Barbee & Gibson, 2001). Universities, colleges, and nursing programs specifically are beginning to focus on increasing diversity as they seek to effectively prepare nursing students to serve diverse clients and communities. Currently, nontraditional students are replacing traditional students in many nursing programs nationwide (Jeffreys, 2004). The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) estimates approximately 73% of undergraduate nursing students are now considered nontraditional (2005). According to Jeffreys (2004), the term nontraditional refers to any student who meets one or more of the following criteria: aged 25 or older, commutes to school, enrolled part time, is male, is a member of an ethnic or racial minority group, speaks English as a second or additional language, has dependent children, and holds a general equivalency diploma (GED) or has required remedial classes. The terms nontraditional or diverse are considered interchangeable for the purpose of describing students who differ from the long-established patterns for traditional undergraduate nursing students. Traditional students generally have been young unmarried women entering nursing programs as first- time students soon after completion of their secondary education (AACN, 2005).

Expansion of diversity within the nursing student body and thereby in the nursing profession is acknowledged as a desirable goal that promises to benefit both the practice discipline and the people nurses serve. In recent years, there have been several efforts to support gr within nursing education with in diversity. In 2002, Johnson and Johnson launched a Campaign for Nursing’s Future (Buerhaus, Donelan, Norman, & Dittus, 2005). The campaign was

Copyright © SLACK Incorporated Address correspondence to Hedi Bednarz, MSN, ACNS-BC, CNE, Clinical Instructor, Wayne State University, College of Nursing, 5557 Cass Avenue, Room 237, Detroit, MI 48202;

NIH Public Access Author Manuscript J Nurs Educ. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 August 13.

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