New Paths to Professional Nursing: Using Encouragement to Prepare a Minority Workforce to Enter the Nursing Profession
The current professional nursing workforce in the United States is predominantly White and female, even though minorities compose 33% of the national population (Travers, Smaldone, & Cohn, 2015). Minority patients are more effectively cared for when their particular cultural milieu is taken into consideration as part of their health care plan (Sullivan, 2004). According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), health care quality remains suboptimal for diverse populations in the United States because some individuals do not receive quality care or do not believe their values are honored or respected (AHRQ, 2016). Minority professional nurses are necessary to address the racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health (RWJBH), in collaboration with Rutgers University School of Nursing (RUSON), implemented New Paths to Professional Nursing (NPPN) to increase the number of minority professional nurses in practice at RWJBH. The program provided financial resources as well as infrastructural, group, and personal support for RWJBH minority employees who desired to complete prerequisites to enter RUSON. The academic success of the employees who participated in NPPN was attributed to a unique combination of financial assistance and support and encouragement. The purpose of this article is to describe in detail the development of the program and the effective encouragement strategies that have led to success for NPPN minority student/employees. This article examines, defines, and illustrates particular types of effective encouragement and suggests that this encouragement was the key to success for the NPPN minority students.