Health disparities are multi-dimensional and exist throughout the United States. These preventable differences in health and health outcomes adversely affect individuals who experience obstacles based on race/ethnicity; religion; socioeconomic status; age; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; gender identity; and/or geography. The NLN’s goal to attain health equity requires valuing every person equally, with enduring efforts to address avoidable inequalities and injustices.
Besides representing an untapped talent pool to remedy the nationwide nursing shortage, diversity in nursing is essential to developing a health care system that understands and addresses the needs of our rapidly changing population. Our nation is enriched by cultural complexity – 37 percent of our population identify as racial and ethnic minorities. Yet diversity eludes the nursing student and nurse educator populations. Minorities only constitute 26 percent of the student population and males only 16 percent of pre-licensure RN students. Workforce diversity is especially needed where research indicates that factors such as societal biases and stereotyping, communication barriers, limited cultural sensitivity and competence, and system and organizational determinants contribute to health care inequities.