Ethnic nurses wanted; nursing program provides new diversity scholarship

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A large lump sum of cash will provide numerous Dixie State University nursing students the opportunity to showcase their diversity in the field. 

The one-time, $100,000 donation from Intermountain Healthcare will be used as a diversity scholarship fund, and Carole Grady, dean of health sciences, said she isn’t sure how long it will last; it simply depends on how many students apply. 

Due to the small representation of minorities in the field, the nursing program elected to support students with ethnic diversity.

“We consider it very important as nurses,” Grady said. “We value diversity and being able to care for all kinds of different patients and understanding their perspectives.” 

Grady said practicing nurses are not diverse right now. 

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and the Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, nurses who represent a minority group only accounted for 19 percent of the registered nurse workforce in 2013. Grady said having ethnically diverse nurses not only helps deliver culturally sensitive care to their patients, but it also benefits the program as a whole.

“Having diversity in our students in the program can only be of benefit to everyone,” she said. “I think it creates a richness that sometimes isn’t there when you don’t have a diverse group of individuals. It can only help you be a better person or be better as a nursing student and as a nurse.” 

However, more recent data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing suggests nursing diversity is steadily increasing. Total minority students enrolled in a general, entry-level baccalaureate nursing program was 30 percent in 2014.

Although this is the first time a diversity scholarship has been offered, Vicki Wilson, human resources director for Intermountain Healthcare’s southwest region, said it’s not the first donation DSU has received from Intermountain Healthcare.

“We work very closely together because we have an interest to make sure we have a good pipeline of qualified applications to meet all the health care needs in the area,” she said.

Wilson said the donation works to further solidify the partnership between DSU and Intermountain Healthcare. She said it’s expensive for universities to offer healthcare degrees, and the donations help ensure DSU has the proper faculty and facilities. 

Grady said the scholarship’s guidelines aren’t finalized; however, the scholarship will only be available for students who have either been accepted into the associate or baccalaureate nursing program or who are currently enrolled in the program. She also said the recipients of the scholarship will be asked to assist with outreach efforts in the elementary, junior high and high schools in the area to reach young students of diversity and get them excited about nursing. The applicants will be required to write an essay describing their ethnicity.

“We don’t have a minimum GPA or anything like that for it, so it’s mostly just focused on the ethnic diversity piece,” she said. 

Diversity isn’t a new theme in the nursing program. Grady and faculty in the health sciences have been working toward bringing 10 nurses from Tanzania to St. George since last October. The nurses will receive intensive education in maternal-child nursing, which is an issue for them, Grady said. 

“We hope to learn as much from them as they learn from us,” she said. “It’s the first time we’re doing it, and we hope it works out so we can continue to do it.” 

Wilson said all parties involved can benefit from the donation: The hospital has more opportunities to hire students from DSU, and the students will have more opportunities to graduate with various health science degrees. Grady said ultimately patients will benefit most from ethnically diverse nurses.

“We consider being able to recognize, accept and respond to diversity in the individuals [who] we care for,” she said.