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Hispanic nurse organization aims for higher recruitment, retention

NAHN focuses on increasing diversity, decreasing health disparities
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By Linda Childers
EDITOR'S NOTE: Linda Childers is a freelance writer.
Anabell Castro Thompson, MSN, APRN, ANP-C, FAAN and president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, said to reduce healthcare disparities and provide better health outcomes in minority populations, more students of color need to pursue nursing degrees. “In order to be it, you have to see it,” Thompson said. “We need more diverse academic role models and nurse leaders that resemble the communities they are serving.” We asked Thompson how NAHN is working to promote diversity, further the education of its members and support programs that benefit communities.
Since its inception in 1976, the National Association of Hispanic nurses has had a keen eye on identifying barriers to quality education for Hispanic nursing students. As part of our efforts to provide solutions to those barriers, NAHN has worked to promote the recruitment and retention of Hispanic students in nursing education programs. A key component of this effort is funding and awarding scholarships. As the association’s operational infrastructure has grown, so too have the funding levels of such scholarships. In addition, many of NAHN’s 44 chapters offer local scholarships. Overall NAHN seeks to provide enough funding to each awardee to be of help, while at the same time maximizing the number of scholarships. In addition to smaller programs and self-funded scholarships, such as the Past Presidents Scholarship Fund, NAHN is honored to receive scholarship money and related services from the United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative. NAHN itself does not issue grants, but rather we put together strategic partnerships centered on key issues and barriers in the implementation and delivery of health services to Hispanic consumers. The organization works diligently to recommend appropriate solutions to local, state and federal agencies, as well as the private sector. Some of that work results in applying for federal, corporate social responsibility or foundation funding. Many of NAHN scholarship programs and grassroots efforts are the result of such grant funding.
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How long has NAHN been rewarding scholarships and issuing grants, and what is the monetary range of each?
What is the goal of the scholarship program?
Our goal is to advance the educational, professional and leadership skills of Hispanic nurses in order to increase the number of Hispanic healthcare professionals, researchers, administrators and educators. In effect, scholarships provide critical assistance and access to educational pathways and mentoring that can provide passionate and qualified students with more opportunities to succeed.
With the U.S. Census Bureau predicting a rapid growth in racial/ethnic minority populations by 2060, the need for a diverse nursing workforce has never been greater. By 2060, the Census Bureau says our country’s Hispanic population is expected to more than double to about 119 million, according to reports
A goal of the scholarship program is to ensure successful completion of the academic year. Transcripts provide an easy way to measure this element of effectiveness. We also can measure success of scholarship recipients through their activity within the local and national association, both for their own benefit as well as to demonstrate leadership to fellow NAHN members and leadership within the Hispanic community. The results have been a very engaged student member contingency that brings a wealth of new perspectives and enthusiasm.
Muevete USA was a successful grant program funded by the Coca-Cola Company and inspired by Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, which is now in 15 locations and addresses obesity, which is an epidemic and can lead to children and teens seeing health conditions that normally aren’t seen until later in life — high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. According to a report by the Office of Minority Health, from 2011-2014 Hispanic children were 1.8 times more likely to be overweight as non-Hispanic white children. The Muevete project uses a train-the-trainer approach to teach healthy eating, the importance of exercise, choosing healthy snacks, and lifestyle changes to improve body image and self-esteem.
Are there other ongoing programs that are supported by NAHN grants? Can you describe them?
What results have you seen so far? Are nurses who receive NAHN scholarships more likely to promote nursing to high school or college students considering the profession or to “pay it forward” in some other way?
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