College of Nursing receives grant to increase number of Latino nurses


CW File

Adam Dodson

The Capstone College of Nursing recently received a $1.7 million grant for the purpose of increasing the number of Latino nurses with bachelor’s degrees. The grant is aimed at recruiting 80 Latino registered nurses with associate degrees and getting them on the track to receiving a bachelor’s degree in nursing from The University of Alabama.

The College of Nursing will admit 20 students over a four-year period to meet the desired goal. The Health Resources and Services Administration Nursing Workforce Diversity program is funding the grant and efforts to recruit the nurses. Support for the nurses comes through scholarships for pre-entry preparation. To be eligible, all nurses must be members of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses.

Other cities and universities have expressed interest for their nurses to better reflect the population of the United States. However, Latinos make up less than 5 percent of the nursing population, despite representing a little over 17 percent of the U.S. population, which concerns those in the nursing community. The push for a more diverse nursing population is in part a result of the belief that there are potential problems in health care caused by the discrepancy in the nursing population.

Norma Cuellar, a professor of nursing at UA, recently said that although they teach all their students cultural sensitivity, “we know that many times when people are being cared for by someone who is not like them, there is a barrier that may impact health care outcomes. Sometimes it is communication, sometimes it’s cultural.”

However, reasons why Latinos are choosing not to join the nursing field are not as clear and vary from fewer educational opportunities to possible financial barriers. The goal of the scholarships is to remedy the latter.

The first group of nursing students under the Bama-Latino project will start school in the fall and graduate in December of 2018.