July 7, 2000


AACN, Hispanic Organizations Join in Pact to Boost Nursing Education Opportunities

In a new collaborative agreement, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has joined with two major national associations to provide Hispanic students with expanded access to nursing education opportunities.

Under the agreement of intent signed with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN), AACN will establish a partnership relationship with the two groups to increase participation of Hispanics in nursing, the nation's largest health care profession.

"Health professionals who understand the cultures, values, and conditions in different population groups are essential to high-quality care and positive patient outcomes," says AACN President Carolyn A. Williams, PhD, RN, FAAN. "Diversity is an essential long-term goal to ensure that nursing and other health professions curricula are culturally relevant for minority populations who, by the year 2050, are projected to comprise nearly half of all Americans. AACN is committed to quality health care delivery through a highly skilled and diverse nursing workforce, and we are pleased to be partnering with HACU and NAHN in this vitally important effort."

"HACU and its member institutions are proud to join forces with AACN and NAHN to bolster the Hispanic ranks in the nursing profession. HACU values organizations like these which realize the contributions Hispanics can make to the overall well-being of our country," says Antonio R. Flores, PhD, president and CEO of HACU.

"More than ever before, education is the fault line between those who will prosper in the new economy and those that will not," says NAHN President Carmen J. Portillo, PhD, RN, FAAN. "NAHN appreciates the opportunity to be involved in this synergy of events particularly with organizations that value the importance of Hispanics in higher education and in nursing, at the same time building on our respective strengths. NAHN is committed to promoting Hispanic nurses to improve the health of our communities — and one way to accomplish our mission is by offering more educational opportunities to Hispanics. NAHN looks forward to this capacity development effort with AACN and HACU."

Although representing 28 percent of the population, racial and ethnic minorities comprise only about 10 percent of the nation's 2.5 million registered nurses. Hispanics, whose numbers in the U.S. have grown by more than 40 percent since 1990, account for an estimated 11.7 percent of all Americans, but less than 2 percent of RNs, according to Census Bureau and other federal data. By 2025, Hispanic Ame-ricans are projected to comprise more than 18 percent of the U.S. population.

Despite such growth, Hispanics accounted for only 4.5 percent of students enrolled in baccalaureate nursing programs in fall 1999 and slightly more than 5 percent of students in master's -and doctoral- degree nursing programs, AACN's latest annual survey found. "Clearly, far greater gains must be achieved to assure talented Hispanic students with full opportunity to contribute to nursing at a time when the demand for high-quality, accessible, and culturally relevant nursing care is accelerating across all settings," Dr. Williams explains.

Under the agreement, AACN, HACU and NAHN will work to increase the number of Hispanics enrolled in and completing baccalaureate and graduate-degree nursing education programs. In particular, the three organizations will assist each other to encourage member schools to allocate resources and create activities to increase recruitment and retention of Hispanic students in nursing education.

Among their efforts, the three groups will work to expand Hispanic students' awareness of the wide range of career options available in nursing, with a particular emphasis on scientific and academic roles in the profession; promote nursing as a career of choice for Hispanics attending AACN -and HACU- member institutions; and recruit nursing students for participation in the HACU National Internship Program, which places undergraduate and graduate Hispanic students in federal and corporate internships across the nation.

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