Report: Nursing still lacks race, gender diversity

Ethnic diversity in the nursing workforce is lacking, denying many patients “culturally relevant care” as patient populations become more diverse, according to a new study.

The “Future of Nursing” report, released by the National Academy of Medicine on Friday, found that while nursing shows more diversity than other healthcare professions, gaps still exist in the workforce when it comes to race, ethnicity and gender.

Hispanics represent 20.3% of American adults age 20 to 40, but make up only 5.4% of registered nurses, the report found. African-Americans represent 13.6% of adults in the same age range, but account for just 10.7% of the RN workforce.

Nursing aides had the highest levels of reported diversity, with 54% white, 37.5% African American, 13.4% Hispanic and 5.1% Asian.

Licensed practical nurses were second with 68.2% white, 25% African-American, 8.2% Hispanic and 4.1% Asian. Registered nurses reported levels of 78.6% white, 10.7% African-American, 8.8% Asian and 5.4% Hispanic.

Gender diversity also represents hurdles for the industry, the report found, with only 9.2% of the close to 3 million RNs in the country being men.

Achieving a more diverse workforce is key to addressing future health needs and providing more culturally relevant care, the report's authors note. Increasing the diversity of students who pursue a career in nursing is the most effective way to achieve diversity in the profession, they added.