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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Inclusive leadership in nursing

connell school news

Associate dean for the undergraduate program Catherine Read has been awarded funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for her Nursing Workforce Diversity grant called "Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing" (KILN). The program will prepare nursing students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including racial and ethic minorities underrepresented among registered nurses, to enter the public health nursing workforce as leaders with the inherent capacity to make a difference in local communities.

"Despite its reputation as a city with outstanding healthcare facilities," says Read, "Boston experiences alarming health disparities along racial and socioeconomic lines. More than one half of the residents of Boston are Asian, Black, or Latino, but the vast majority of nurse leaders are White."

The current health care situation in Boston provides the perfect opportunity for the KILN program to create change: In 2006, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to require all residents to carry health insurance. As a result, over 440,000 previously uninsured people are now in the healthcare system. This influx of new patients, coupled with a shortage of diverse, baccalaureate-prepared nurses, has caused a crisis in the health care system in underserved communities in Boston.

The KILN program will work toward correcting that balance. A pre-entry program will stimulate interest in nursing as a career by recruiting top candidates and a retention program will increase the graduation rate of Connell School minority and disadvantaged students by providing intense mentoring and support as well as stipends and scholarships.

"Through community-based leadership and scholarship development activities," Read says, "we can increase the number of culturally competent, leadership-trained graduates working in Boston's medically underserved areas.

"I believe the program will ultimately contribute to the elimination of health disparities, a goal consistent with BC's mission of uniting high academic achievement with service to others in a diverse community."