nursing schoolAs a profession comprised of only about 5.5% African Americans, nursing isn’t even half way to equaling the United States population at 13.1% African Americans.

Through a new grant, “Enhancing the Diversity of the Nursing Profession: Assessing the Mentoring Needs of African American Nursing Students,” the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) and the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) are examining ways to do just that.

Phyllis Sharps, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Dean for Community and Global Programs, Director, Center for Global Nursing, the principal investigator for the $20,000 grant from the NBNA, will use the funding to conduct a national survey to identify the drivers and barriers to success among African American nursing students and nurses.

While there are lower numbers in the profession, the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN) shows that African Americans and minority groups are more likely to pursue baccalaureate and higher degrees in nursing—52.5% of African Americans pursue nursing degrees beyond the associate level, while only 48.4% of their white counterparts pursue equal degrees. Sharps hopes that through this grant, her research will determine what mentoring needs are essential to keeping these African American nursing students on track and continuing their education.

NBNA President Reverend Dr. Deidre Walton adds, “As nurses, we all know what we needed while attending nursing school. We need to have a better understanding of what this generation of nursing students need in this new technological and innovative world of nursing.”