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Hispanic Nursing School Admissions On Downward Spiral, Says New Data

Hispanic enrollments in undergraduate nursing programs continue to drop, according to a new study, even as the largest minority group in the country continues to grow.

Findings from a review of 2004-2005 enrollment data by the National League of Nursing reports a dip in overall nursing admissions, but Hispanic students represent only 5.3 percent of all nursing students, compared with more than 10 percent of the total undergraduate population.

“Culturally competent care is very important, and with the Hispanic population rapidly growing, we are very concerned that Hispanics are not choosing nursing as a profession,” says Dr. Ruth Corcoran, NLN’s chief executive officer.

Although the quality of students accepted at nursing programs is higher than ever, Corcoran says, so is the competition to get into nursing schools.

“Schools are saturated, and they don’t have enough qualified faculty,” she says. “There are not enough Hispanic role models as faculty.”

According to the Nursing Data Review, between 1994 and 2002, the total percentage of minority nursing students grew to more than 20 percent. By 2002, it appeared to have stagnated.

African-American enrollment peaked in 2002-2003 at 14.5 percent but has since declined to 12.6 percent in the past two years. Hispanic enrollment was 6 percent in 2002-2003 and slipped to 5.3 percent in 2004-2005. The undergraduate enrollment for Asians increased only slightly, from 5 percent in 2002-2003 to 5.6 percent in 2004-2005.

The drop could be due to a change in racial classification. Kathy Kaufman, a senior research analyst, says the league has changed the categories of racial minorities, adding the “other” category in their data collection.

While the students classified in race-specific categories have declined, the numbers for “other” have increased, says Kaufman.

“The increasing numbers in the ‘others’ category has confounded our findings and we are seeing slippage,” she says.

According to the data, African-Americans are the most populous minority group among nursing students.

At Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing, Black enrollments have increased while Hispanic numbers have remained steady, according to Patricia A. Peerman, the school’s director of enrollment management.

Corcoran says the solution to the Hispanic nursing shortage needs to be found early to ensure quality health care throughout society.

By Shilpa Banerji


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