AU shares in $2.2 million grant to promote health equity | Local News


ANDERSON – Anderson University’s is one of eight nursing schools in Indiana to share in a recent grant of nearly $2.2 million.

The money comes from the Health Resources and Services Administration and is designated to promote health equity.

The grant, to be distributed over four years, was awarded to the Indiana Center for Nursing based on its submission of a replicable strategy of the Nursing Education and Engagement in Diversity Statewide 2B program.

The program can be used by nurses to build a culture of health while collaborating with diverse stakeholders.

Lynn Schmidt, dean of the School of Nursing and Kinesiology at AU, said the nursing workforce must mirror an increasingly diverse U.S. population.

“Increasing diversity in the nursing workforce can serve as a vital strategy to address health inequities,” she said. “Nurses are called on to respond with sensitivity to everyone, regardless of race, disability, socioeconomic status, religion or sexual orientation.”

Officials with the U.S. Census Bureau have long predicted that current minority groups will form the majority of the nation’s population by 2043.

The Hispanic population, for instance, is expected to more than double from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million by 2060. The African-American population is projected to increase from 41.2 million in 2012 to 61.8 million by 2060.

The U.S. already is experiencing a nursing shortage, requiring 1.1 million new registered nurses by next year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Recruitment and retention of people of color and others who traditionally may be marginalized to fill those roles could help reduce that shortage.

The shortage of diverse nurses also translates into a shortage of diverse nursing faculty. A 2016 study published by the journal Nursing Outlook found that people of color represent less than 13% of nursing faculty.

According to the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, having a more diverse nursing staff would improve healthcare outcomes for people of color by reducing disparities in screenings and treatment.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health reported that African-Americans, for instance, tend to be at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

AU and the other grant recipients will use the funds to increase diversity and inclusion in the state’s nursing workforce through holistic review and admission to the school’s nursing program, recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and inclusion of cultural competency in nursing education.

The money also will be used for scholarships, stipends and other strategies to increase enrollment of students with diverse backgrounds and to remove barriers that discourage their retention and graduation.

Kimberly Harper, CEO of the Indiana Center for Nursing, said her organization looks forward to building a culture of health and promoting health equity.

“The work we are doing to transform the diversity, inclusion and equity within the Indiana nursing workforce will improve health and healthcare for everyone,” she said.

Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.

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