A recent study titled The Registered Nurse Population: Initial Findings from the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses revealed some interesting developments regarding the ever more diverse nursing population. Some of the findings include:
- Women still outnumber men by 15 to 1 overall, but for nurses who became RNs after 1990, the ratio is only 10 to 1.
- The average age of all licensed RNs in 2008 was 47 versus 46.8 in 2004, which the report said means the age increases of the past have slowed down and the age of nurses is stabilizing
- The number of minority nurses increased to 16.8% of nurses in 2008 from 12.2% in 2004.
- The number of foreign educated nurses living in the U.S. increased to 170,235 (RNs), which makes up 5.6% of the nursing population in the U.S. , this is up from 3.7% in 2007. These were mostly comprised from the Philippines, Canada and India.
So what does this increase in diversity mean for your unit? Like every situation there are bound to be both benefits and challenges.
Some of the Benefits Diversity in Your Unit Include:
Better adaptability to different kinds of patients – Nurses from different backgrounds can bring individual talents and experiences in patient care that make them more flexible in adapting to different patient needs
Broader care range – Having a diverse set of skills and experiences (for example, languages and cultural backgrounds) means nurses can relate to all kinds of patients.
Larger knowledge base – A culturally diverse nursing unit that is able to communicate their different viewpoints to each other creates a larger knowledge base of ideas and experiences that they can use collectively to meet the needs of the community they serve.
Some of the Challenges of Diversity in Your Unit Include:
Poor Communication – Overcoming the cultural and language barriers that can happen between people from different backgrounds is crucial to reaping the benefits of a culturally diverse unit, so you will need to focus on creating open and understanding lines of communication among your staff
Resisting change – As your unit’s makeup changes you may have some employees who resists the change and don’t accept that the cultural and social dynamic of the unit is changing.
Managing of Diversity in the Unit – Making sure the diversity in your unit is a positive and not a negative starts with you as the Nurse Manager. And one of the best ways to do this is through recognition that it is taking place and putting education and an open communication policy in place for your team.
Here are some other resources to help you:
- Diversity in the Workplace: Search for Similarities – Just Like Me
- Simple Steps to Support Workplace Diversity
- Seven Ways to Better Communicate in Today’s Diverse Workplace
- How To Promote Diversity in the Workplace
- Workplace Stereotyping: A Silent Productivity Destroyer
What about your unit? What trends have you seen in diversity? What strategies have you used to use it your advantage?