2 nurses in a medical setting

In a post-Roe v. Wade America where access to women’s health care is increasingly difficult, a multi-university team of researchers is shedding light on the lack of diversity among women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNP).

The study, published earlier this year in Women’s Healthcare, explores recruitment and retention practices of diverse WHNP students and faculty across the country. Nalo Hamilton, PhD, MSN, WHNP/ANP-BC, associate professor in the UCLA School of Nursing and a co-author of study, says that while diversity in nursing has improved, there is still work to be done, particularly for women’s health.

“We know that patient outcomes improve when practitioners are representative of the populations they serve. Unfortunately, this is not the case in women’s health,” Hamilton said. “What we’re exploring in this study are structural recruitment and retention strategies to address this disparity.”

According to a 2018 survey by the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, just 15% of WHNPs self-identified as people-of-color. To increase this number, the study proposes a variety of methods and strategies organizations can adopt.

Along with recruitment, retention, mentoring, and academic support of minority students and faculty, structural and systemic improvements should also be explored. Researchers outline three categories of focus for institutions: policy change implementation, student debt prevention, and equitable faculty salaries.

By focusing on these areas, Hamilton says organizations can begin to make an impact on creating diverse workforce among WHNPs.

“I truly hope that nursing will stay energized and keep after the goal of being representatives of the patients that we serve,” said Hamilton.

Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Students and Faculty in Women’s Health is a collaborative publication by authors from UCLA, Temple University, Drexel University, and Thomas Jefferson University.