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Promoting the diversity of Arizona's nursing workforce through mentorship.

In the last Arizona Nurse issue, we highlighted the first five goals of our Robert Wood Johnson Foundation SIP Grant (creating an infrastructure to house healthcare workforce data).

The Arizona Action Coalition Diversity Council (AZ ACDC) was created to design and implement SIP Project Goal #6 Diversity of RN Workforce for the Future of Nursing: Arizona Implementation Program. The AZ ACDC is dedicated to promote a diverse workforce in Arizona, through opportunities for mentorship among diverse, bilingual students in community health settings.

A pilot mentoring program will be implemented from August 2015 to May 2016. The Program Goal: To develop a model that can be utilized statewide. A minimum of 20 student/RN dyads will engage in a project with underserved populations. The pilot program has identified 20 students of the Bilingual Nursing Program at Phoenix College as the mentee's. Mentors have been recruited through the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN), Black Nurses Association (BNA) Greater Phoenix, and Philippine Nurses Association of Arizona (PNAAZ) who must complete the application process to assist in the matching of Mentor/Mentee. Each dyad will list at least one positive patient outcome in their community health setting project, resulting from the experience with a specific focus on diverse/underserved population. Long-term, this program may contribute to an overarching goal of promoting a culture of health in Arizona.

In working with nursing program directors AZ ACDC will ensure the experience objectives align with program objectives. In addition, this opportunity lends itself to enhance the diversity curriculum embedded within nursing programs and to apply leadership skills as mentors and educators.

The minority population in higher education is faced with the dilemma of a lack of qualified educators. Literature on the topic of educating a culturally diverse population has raised many questions on ways this is to be accomplished. Who will take ownership of successfully educating our culturally diverse youth? In the United States, the population of minority group educators are vastly underrepresented. A more important question would be, does culture play a role in the success in minority student's success?

According to international researchers, of the population they studied, many Black students and parents felt the need for like culture representation in the classroom (Dei, 1995). Their beliefs were that Black teachers offered a social perspective based on cultural and common experiences within a classroom structure that were less intimidating, and a teaching style was much like that of the students' home environments.

While the Dei, 1995 research may have revealed the importance of having like cultures to educate like students, most recently, a local study conducted at a community college in Maricopa County, found that their results were ranked differently. From one to three, with one being the most important. Students believed that first and foremost the instructor must be knowledgeable (McKee, 2013). The students believed that since they were dependent on the instructor to teach them what they needed to know to succeed, they wanted the best. Second there must be some sort of financial support for the students to attend college. And third, students found that instructors of like ethnicities would be helpful as mentors and life coaches (McKee, 2013).

According to the American Nurses Association 1991 position statement on Cultural Diversity in Nursing Practice, "Nurses bring their personal cultural heritage as well as the cultural and philosophical views of their education into the professional setting. Access to care can be improved by providing culturally-relevant, responsive services." The AZ ACDC Mentoring Program will provide cultural awareness and sensitivity to address these issues.

By specifically utilizing a diverse group of bilingual nursing students and mentors identified as members of Arizona's ethnic minority nursing organizations, including NAHN Phoenix, we can support the mission of each respective organization. For example, NAHN is committed to advancing the health of the Hispanic community in Arizona, through advocacy and educational, professional, and leadership opportunities for Hispanic Nurses. Within the United States, cultural differences are expressed not only through language but also through body language, music, architecture, clothing and accessories. Furthermore, individuals living in different areas of the country experience differences in lifestyle and social norms. San Francisco, Boston, Ft. Meyers or St. Louis will create different experiences for those living there. (Collins, 2006)

Focusing on cultural strengths and building a peer-mentorship network may assist in supporting and sustaining efforts. The AZ ACDC will continue to develop, implement and evaluate this mentoring program over the next two years. Once the program is refined and completed the AZ ACDC will plan to disseminate the program throughout Arizona.

Tillie Chavez, MSN, RN

Adriana Perez, PhD, ANP


American Nurses Association. (1991). Cultural Diversity in Nursing Practice. Nursing World, Adopted by: ANA Board of Directors.

Collins, Shonta, (2006). Is Cultural Competency required in Today's Nursing Care? NSNA Imprint February/ March 2006.

Dei, G. J. S. (1995). Drop out or push out? The dynamics of Black students' disengagement from school. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

McKee, S., (2013). Minority Nursing Shortage in Maricopa County: A Phenomenological Study. University Library, Dissertation.
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Title Annotation:Arizona Action Coalition
Author:Chavez, Tillie; McKee, Sharon; Perez, Adriana
Publication:Arizona Nurse
Geographic Code:1U8AZ
Date:Aug 1, 2015
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