Playing Catch Up
Whenever I read about national shortages of qualified professionals in critical fields, such as health care and technology, I can’t help but think about the tragic legacy of segregation and discrimination in the United States.
I believe that had African Americans enjoyed the full range of educational and career opportunities experienced by Whites since the 19th century, this nation’s social, political and economic landscape would look vastly different from what exists now. Despite the enormous wealth that’s been generated by the American system, this nation nonetheless suffers for having severely restricted the participation of African Americans and other minorities in the U.S. economy. The relegation of Blacks to inferior schooling over several generations after the Civil War means now that Blacks in the 21st century struggle to catch up to Whites, and Asian Americans as well, in academic achievement and will be doing so for quite some time.
That Blacks and Latinos are underrepresented in important fields, such as nursing, means that all Americans face the consequences of a national nursing shortage. The same is true in fields such as pharmacy education and computer science. Whether we admit to it or not, all Americans pay dearly for the consequences of past segregation and discrimination of Blacks. In this issue, assistant editor Crystal L. Keels examines the national nursing shortage and describes some of the programs designed to boost the numbers of nursing graduates in the United States.
In the pharmacy field, Black Issues correspondent Tracie Powell documents how pharmacy schools are having no problems attracting students to the field. However, pharmacy schools are having some difficulty filling faculty spots in their institutions.
In the fields of pharmacy and nursing, there are several initiatives underway to increase the numbers of educators for both disciplines, ultimately allowing such programs to accept more students. It is interesting to note that these fields have evolved significantly over the years, with many more options open and available for exploration.
Assistant editor Kendra Hamilton takes a look at the student affairs post, which continues to produce candidates for the top job on college campuses — that of the presidency. Working very closely with students and student life, current and former student affairs professionals say the position familiarizes you with all the “ins and outs” of an institution.
“My perception is that a vice president for student affairs is one of the hardest working people on campus,” says the Rev. Dr. Michael Battle, a former vice president for student affairs and now president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta.
As the role of the college president evolves, a different skill set, in addition to an academic one, is increasingly being called into play.
Our Careers edition highlights the evolution, in this case, of specific professions. As various fields and disciplines change, they attract different people, and therefore, the industry has to take a different approach when trying to recruit future professionals. Some of the student affairs professionals talked about continuing to research, having the terminal degree and taking advantage of professional development programs. Whether it’s nursing, pharmacy, student affairs or another field, it’s all about having the education and being prepared for that golden career opportunity when it comes knocking.
Hilary Hurd Anyaso
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