Diversifying The Nursing Workforce: What Benefits Does It Offer, And How Can It Be Achieved?

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Nursing Workforce

Staying healthy and keeping fit can provide a range of benefits, such as boosting your immune system, looking after your internal organs, and building a more positive self-image. It has also been shown that regular exercise can boost your mental well-being and strengthen bones. However, even if you are health-conscious, accidents can sometimes occur or conditions can appear out of nowhere that need treatment from trained healthcare professionals.

There are numerous roles in healthcare that deliver care to patients, but nurses are among the most crucial. They are the ones who spend the most time each day directly caring for patients. Nurses also perform a number of key tasks every day in their role for better patient outcomes. Nursing is not just important in terms of patient care; it is also a key employer on a national scale and a profession that is enduringly popular.

Why move into nursing as a career?

There are many compelling reasons to consider choosing nursing as a career. One of the biggest reasons is the superb job satisfaction it offers and the feeling of making a real difference in the world.

Nursing is also a career that is always in demand and offers great job security. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall outlook for registered nurses is expected to show a 6% growth from 2021 to 2031. This clearly shows a positive trajectory for this sector in the future.

Although money might not be the main priority for many individuals working in nursing, the salary levels across the sector are attractive. The average salary for advanced practice nurses in the US is around $102,600 right now, and this compares well with roles of this stature in other industries.

How can you get into nursing as a trained professional?

As you might expect, nurses have to undergo training and earn the relevant qualifications to be able to work in any hospital or clinic. This means that the first step to becoming a nurse is completing a recognized course in nursing that arms you with the skills needed to succeed. A good example of this is a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

What happens if you are looking at nursing as a second career? The basic requirements remain the same in the sense that you need the right specialist qualifications to change over from another industry. For those with a non-nursing degree looking to become a nurse, there is a range of tailored academic courses to help with the transition.

A Master of Science in Nursing course is a popular option for people coming into nursing from outside the sector. The benefits of MSN degree programs at Elmhurst University cannot be overstated, and they are an ideal way for those who are not currently qualified to work in nursing to access advanced roles in the field quickly.

Nursing as a workforce is becoming more diverse

Just as following a healthy diet relies on a diverse selection of foods, nursing also relies on diversity to operate effectively. This is focused largely on creating a more diverse workforce in the sector. Anyone who keeps an eye on nursing will know there has been a strong push for diversity in recent years.

This has seen people from a much wider range of backgrounds come into the industry to care for patients. It has also led to greater diversity in terms of who fills roles and has given qualified nurses the freedom to apply for whatever position they desire.

What benefits does the move toward a more inclusive, diverse nursing industry bring?

Enables nursing to reflect society

A more diverse workforce enables the profession to better reflect the society around it. It also means that nursing better reflects the people it cares for and treats. This is important because it allows the industry to be forward-thinking and represent the diverse patients it serves.

As a result, nursing is not only able to remain relevant but also to move with the times. If it were not able to do this through a more diverse workforce, people might question its relevance.

Provides an answer to shortages in nursing

Although this sector remains a great one in which to carve out a career, it is currently experiencing issues related to staff shortages. It is believed that a combination of staff leaving due to COVID-19 burnout and older nurses retiring is behind this. Although it is a topic that has made its presence felt over the last few years, nursing shortages could really cause societal problems as we move forward.

Promoting more diversity in the industry’s workforce is a great solution and could be the answer to staff shortages. In simple terms, diversifying the workforce allows nursing to recruit from a much wider range of communities and backgrounds. This means the sector has many more people to target when recruiting new staff and more people to fill the shortage of nurses.

More positive patient experience

Diversifying the nursing sector can also have significant advantages in terms of the care patients receive. This is because it sees a much broader range of genders, cultures and backgrounds in the workforce. This may not sound overly impressive but can make a very positive difference to the patient experience.

If a male patient does not feel comfortable being treated by a female nurse, for example, having a male nurse in the workforce can help make the patient feel more comfortable. Nursing was not traditionally seen as a male role in the past, and diversifying the workforce to include more men is an ideal example of how it can help.

This can also be applied to patients who may not be comfortable being examined by a male nurse. By ensuring the nursing workforce has a diverse range of people within it across all roles, facilities can give patients a much better experience.

More specialized care for patients

In addition to being able to offer a more positive experience for patients, a nursing workforce that is diverse can deliver more specialized care. This can be especially important when you consider the aging population we are seeing right now and how this is impacting the demographic of patients in healthcare.

By diversifying the nursing profession to include nurses who are older, seniors can get treatment from people who truly understand their needs. The same is also true for recruiting people from other specific backgrounds, who can bring their own experience into the care they offer people from the same background.

Experience from other sectors to improve nursing

We have already noted that switching to nursing as a second career is something that is becoming increasingly easier. In addition to helping to bring more staff into the sector, broadening the workforce to target those who are not coming straight out of college can bring some unique advantages.

It can bring a whole range of new perspectives from other industries into the sector and lead to new innovations in terms of processes or patient care. Nurses coming from a business background are a case in point and might help to drive efficiencies in their role based on similar responsibilities and challenges in their previous job. Making nursing more diverse in terms of where it recruits from helps to freshen the whole industry up and bring best practices from other sectors to discover.

Diversity is also beneficial for those within nursing

Although the previous points might focus on the benefits diversity in nursing brings to the industry or to patients, it can also have some excellent benefits for nurses themselves. These include:

  • Helps to promote a better sense of belonging and greater teamwork
  • Nurses pick up best practices and tips from a diverse team of colleagues
  • Helps to build better collaboration through cultural understanding
  • Diversity can help boost morale and establish a positive working atmosphere

As you can see, a more diverse workforce not only benefits patients but can also have positive effects for professionals in the nursing sector.

What strategies does nursing use to achieve a more diverse workforce?

We have looked at why diversification is good for nursing, but you may still wonder how the industry achieves it. The key is to set out clear strategies for diversification, which enable it to happen and allow the sector to meet its goals in this area.

What specific strategies does nursing use to have a broader appeal?

Community outreach with under-represented groups

This is one very effective strategy nursing uses to help build a more diverse workforce. By engaging in targeted community outreach with under-represented groups, it can help bring more people from these groups into the profession. This could be people who would otherwise not think about this type of career or believe it would be hard for them to access.

By engaging in community outreach in this way, the sector can not only reach a more diverse audience to recruit from but show them exactly how to get into nursing. If outreach is done by current nurses from the same under-represented group, it can be a powerful way to attract new recruits from these backgrounds.

Role models are very important for inspiring the next generation of nurses and ensuring people from a much wider range of backgrounds move into the industry. This is more likely to happen if potential recruits have direct contact with trained nurses they identify with.

Help for nursing students across a range of communities

Diversity in nursing can be achieved by broadening the range of backgrounds and communities visible in the workforce. This helps bring a much wider cross-section of society into the industry and helps it become truly inclusive.

A good way to help this along is by offering support to potential nurses from marginalized groups or communities that need it. Nurses who do not speak English as their first language could be signposted to academic support programs that fine-tune their English language skills. This helps break down communication barriers and makes it more likely that they will enter nursing and succeed in it.

By the same token, people from under-privileged backgrounds could be offered some type of financial help as they study to become a nurse. This can remove one of the main barriers people from this background come across when aiming to work within the industry.

As the above examples show, finding ways to support and encourage nurses from a wide range of communities can help make the overall workforce more diverse.

More nurse educators from minority backgrounds

An effective strategy the industry uses to help stimulate diversity is the drive for more nurse educators from minority groups in nursing courses. While only 19.2% of nursing faculty members were from a minority background in 2021, this is something nursing is looking at more and more to drive up diversity within its ranks.

How can this help? Much of the impact it has relates to the positive role models nurse educators from under-represented communities provide to students from similar backgrounds. This can give these students not only the motivation to apply to nursing courses but also stick with them to make it into nursing. Nurse educators from minority groups are also well-placed to teach values related to cultural competency to students and help prepare future nurses to champion diversity in the profession.

Highlight the benefits of a nursing career

Although it may sound overly simplistic, this is a very useful strategy nursing uses to bring more people in from a wider range of backgrounds. Many people are attracted to a career because of what it offers and the rewards it brings.

By taking time to explain the benefits of a nursing career, the industry is able to gain the interest of people from all parts of society. This sees a much wider demographic choosing to enter the profession and helps it become more diverse over time. If this is done with targeted outreach as well, the effects can be quite spectacular.

As part of this, it can be very effective to highlight the inclusive and welcoming nature of nursing as a particular benefit. This can help eliminate any worries people from minority groups might have about entering nursing and show them that this should not hold them back.

Career advancement is also a plus

Most people want to progress in their career over time and gradually move up to more advanced positions. To help bring people into nursing from a larger range of backgrounds, the sector can showcase its opportunities for career progression for trained nurses.

By doing this, it can appeal to people from all communities and show them that nursing is a role with almost limitless career possibilities. This could well convince people from a more diverse selection of groups to enter the profession and change the overall feel of the industry.

Diversity in nursing comes from the top 

In any business, real change is driven from the top and by those in charge of implementing the transformations needed. This is also true of nursing, and achieving a greater amount of diversity in the sector must start with nursing leaders.

Luckily, there seems to be a real appetite to create a more inclusive workforce that reflects all of society. Much of this is driven by people from under-represented groups themselves who have risen to positions of power in the sector. They are now able to use their influence to help nursing move with the times and appeal to a much wider demographic in terms of recruitment.

As more people from a selection of different backgrounds move into leadership positions in the industry, this is only likely to be seen more and more. This should lead to even more efforts being made to diversify nursing in future decades.

Nursing looks more diverse than ever

If you compare the modern nursing sector to the industry 50 years ago, it is clear just how much more diverse it is now. Over the last few decades, the sector has made great strides in not only appealing to a wider range of communities but also removing barriers they may face when trying to break into nursing.

This means we are seeing a truly modern workforce in the sector that draws people of all backgrounds, genders, races, religions and sexualities. With time, it is likely that this drive for diversification will become more pronounced and that nursing will continue to set an example for others to follow.