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TRAVELER’S GUIDE TO NURSING AND ALLIED HEALTH: The Importance of Diversity in Healthcare

TRAVELER’S GUIDE TO NURSING AND ALLIED HEALTH: The Importance of Diversity in Healthcare

This week’s edition of the Traveler’s Guide to Nursing and Allied Health examines the benefits of diversity in the healthcare workforce.

Patient populations in the United States are more diverse than ever. The Hispanic or Latino community alone grew by 2.4 percent from 2010 to 2020. Still, disparities in healthcare treatment and outcomes continue to persist. Pregnancy mortality rates are three times higher among Black women than White women. Hispanic women are 20 percent more likely to die from cervical cancer than non-Hispanic White women. Indian Health Services reports that American Indians and Alaska Natives have a life expectancy of 5.5 years less than all other races in the U.S. Access to care is a contributor, but the 2022 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report lists a lack of diversity in the workplace as a critical factor in inferior care.


What is Diversity?
The U.S. has a 40.9 percent non-white minority population.

Often race and gender are cited during discussions on diversity, but patients come in every age group, religion, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, educational level, gender identity, veteran status, disability, and more. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a healthcare workforce that reflects our diverse population may be better prepared to meet patients’ needs. Shared backgrounds and experiences give providers better insight and perspective on cultural and environmental factors that could play a part in a patient’s condition as well as treatment preferences and decision-making processes. But diversity doesn’t just positively impact patients. It benefits the hospital, staff, and the surrounding community.

Encourages Learning

Rapidly changing technologies and evolving conditions and illnesses demand healthcare workers constantly adapt. A diverse workforce introduces new approaches and promotes a learning mindset where employees are open to acquiring and expanding knowledge. Plus, interaction between nurses and staff of varying backgrounds encourages creativity and out-of-the-box thinking and a greater chance for innovation.


                                                                  Cultural Competence
One in five speak a language other than English in their home.

Language and cultural barriers can lead to a laundry list of challenges and possible mishaps in a setting that can require rapid decision-making in literal life-or-death situations. Bilingual nurses and staff improve and expand communication between patients and staff, but cultural competency can improve trust, rapport, and insight. An LGBTQIA nurse may better understand a transgender patient’s needs and concerns. Likewise, a Muslim nurse will be more aware of care and treatment that may not align with a patient’s religious beliefs.


Welcoming Atmosphere

A more diverse workforce creates a more welcoming atmosphere. Minority patients are more inclined to seek help earlier rather than later, reducing the severity of a condition when care is administered. Diversity reduces the intimidation factor and increases trust, making patients more inclined to communicate and share with staff.


Improved Patient Outcomes and Satisfaction

Studies have shown racial bias occurs in pain assessment and treatment recommendations for Black patients. A diversified staff would help eliminate this type of disparity as well as conscious and unconscious biases. Increased awareness and knowledge improves the decision-making process creating better outcomes and experiences for patients, building trust between the patients and staff, and increasing the likelihood of patients adhering to staff recommendations.


A Stronger Workforce
There are nearly 4.2 million RNs in the U.S.

Staffing shortages continue to plague the healthcare industry. A 2022 Health Affairs analysis revealed 100,000 nurses left the workforce between 2020 and 2021, the most significant drop in four decades. Concurrently, Hispanics comprise 18.9 percent of the total population but only 5.6 percent of the registered nurse workforce. Black Americans make up 13.6 percent of the total population but just 6.7 percent of RNs. By increasing minority employment racially, ethnically, by religion, age, etc., healthcare staff could address one of the biggest challenges currently impacting U.S. healthcare.



Are you a Registered Nurse or Allied Health Professional looking to work and travel in the U.S.? With MedPro’s all-new MedPro Experience+ (MPX+), travel nurses and allied health professionals are taking control of their careers. MPX+ puts the power in travelers’ hands. Users have 24/7, real-time access to jobs, applications, credentials, assignment details, and more. Sign Up for MedPro Experience + today!

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