Mirroring the Faces of Our Communities

As Hispanic Heritage Month continues,  AzHHA is proud to partner with local organizations that know the Hispanic population and are committed to advancing the health of the Hispanic community in Arizona. Dr. Veronica Vital, President of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, Phoenix Chapter, is a native of Mesa, Arizona who has dedicated a great deal of her energy and education in addressing the care and health disparities experienced by Hispanics.  She has provided the following blog to address the importance of a diverse workforce to help reduce health disparities and inequalities among minorities. 

The faces of our communities are diverse and have unique cultures, characteristics, needs and strengths. It is projected that by 2050 minorities will represent approximately 50% of the U.S. population and by 2060 one in five individuals will be foreign-born.

population

Hispanics are the fastest growing population in the U.S. and represented approximately 57 million of the total U.S. population in 2015. In 2014, Hispanics accounted for approximately 2.1 million or 31% of the population in Arizona with 90% being of Mexican origin. Furthermore, it projected that by 2030 one out of every three children will be Hispanic .

A disparity exists between healthcare providers and the populations they service. Despite minorities representing a large portion of the U.S. population, minority healthcare providers are underrepresented. In 2010, African Americans accounted for a little over 6% of physicians and less than 6% of physicians were of Hispanic origin. Furthermore, Hispanic nurses represent less than 4% of all nurses in the country. These numbers are extremely concerning since Hispanics represent approximately 17% of the U.S. population. Minorities are reported to experience poorer quality of patient-provider interaction, being victims of discrimination and segregation, and exposed to physician biases. LaVeist & Pierre (2014) reported that minority faculty members accounted for <4.2 % medical school, 10 % baccalaureate nursing, and 8.6 % dental school faculty members in 2007.

Diversifying the healthcare workforce is important to mirror the faces of the communities we serve and can help reduce health disparities and inequalities faced by minorities. A more diverse healthcare workforce can potentially reduce negative effects of social determinants on health; promote cultural competency; reduce linguistic and cultural barriers; promote access to high quality care; and increase satisfaction with healthcare. Patients may be more willing to seek care or adhere to recommended regimens from a provider who speaks their language and/or who may share the same culture. Providing linguistically and culturally competent care can promote care provided by healthcare professionals. A greater understanding of the care and education being provided could promote the likelihood that patients will experience better health outcomes and ultimately reducing health disparities faces by minorities.

As a Latina/Hispanic Nurse and President of NAHN Phoenix Chapter, I am proud to say that we recognize the importance of increasing the number of minority nurses and healthcare care providers. There are also other ethnic minority professional nursing organizations that contribute to the effort of increasing the awareness for the need to diversify the nursing workforce. Our chapter embraces the opportunity to mentor Hispanic students aspiring to be nurses. (For more information http://www.hispanicsinnursing.org) NAHN also provides mentorship and scholarships for our members seeking to advance to a leadership role or seeking higher education. We inspire these students and instill hope that they too can become nurses despite barriers they experience as minorities.

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