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NBNA promotes nursing diversity and furthering education
By Linda Childers
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Mentoring and scholarships help show support for black students
EDITOR'S NOTE: Linda Childers is a freelance writer.
Nursing organizations such as the National Black Nurses Association strive to increase workforce diversity and to address health disparities among vulnerable populations. Nurse.com asked Martha Dawson, DNP, MSN, RN, FACHE, assistant professor and MSN specialty coordinator at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing, and the current historian for the NBNA, about how the NBNA is working to promote diversity, further the education of its members and support programs that benefit communities.
Each year at our annual conference we celebrate emerging leaders in the nursing field with our 45 Under 40 Award. This award recognizes NBNA members who have shown strong leadership and demonstrated excellence and innovation in their practice setting. We also believe in supporting health globally and have a partnership with the Haiti Nursing Foundation. We donated $25,000 to the HIF and are happy to see the money helping to educate nursing students in Haiti who then care for the people of Haiti. Each year we also have NBNA Day on Capitol Hill that is dedicated to congressional health issues and policy.
What other programs/initiatives are offered by the NBNA?
With the nation’s changing demographics, the need for minority nurses has never been greater. The National Institutes of Health predict that by the year 2050, the U.S. will become a majority-minority nation, and the African-American population will increase by 50%.
How does the NBNA work to promote continuing education?
The NBNA partners with universities that help students to attain a nursing degree or an advanced nursing degree while they continue to work. For example, we partnered with Capella University, which offers online degree programs. As part of our alliance, NBNA members and their immediate family members were eligible for reduced tuition at Capella. We encourage our members to increase their education at all levels — for LPNs to achieve their RN license, for nurses who have their BSN to consider pursuing an MSN and even going on to achieve a DNP. We’re proud to see statistics such as those from the American Associated College of Nursing that report the percentage of black nurses earning master’s or doctorate degrees has increased over the past 10 years.

It’s encouraging to see many nurses under 40 who already have their post-master's NP certification and are studying for their DNP. They just continue taking classes while they work, and their employers are picking up a portion of their tuition. We are also proud of our collaborative mentoring program that helps nurses at all stages of their careers. We offer three types of mentorship: new nurses/student nurses, nurses transitioning into new nursing roles, and nurses advancing into leadership positions. We encourage education while also pairing nurses with a mentor who can offer them insight on their career path, and support. In Alabama, our NBNA chapter has partnered with the Alabama Health Action Coalition whose goal is to transform healthcare through nursing in our state and increase the number and proportion of BSN graduates.
What is your Summer Youth Institute?
Since 2010, the NBNA has offered a one-day enrichment program to children and teens during our annual conference. The goal of the program is to increase awareness and understanding of careers in the nursing field. Our 99 chapters are also actively involved in conducting outreach with local high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools to make students aware of the many career opportunities within nursing.
Do you also have scholarships for nursing students?
Yes, the NBNA offers scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 on both a local and national level.
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"We're proud to see statistics such as those from the American Associated College of Nursing that report the percentage of black nurses earning master’s or doctorate degrees has increased over the past 10 years.”

— Martha Dawson, RN
Martha Dawson, RN
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