When Jacinta Telesford-Ximba, BSN, MA, (pictured, left) a staff nurse in the Emergency Department, became the third Diversity Fellow on May 2, she followed in the footsteps of two nurses who created progressive new programs at BWH.
“Diversity is an important issue in how we treat our patients, hire and retain staff and manage the hospital,” said Nancy Hickey, MS, RN, director of Personnel and Resource Applications in Nursing Administration, who oversees the fellow’s appointment and activity. The program is designed to train talented nurses of minority populations for management positions at BWH. It also focuses on increasing the number of minority nurses at the hospital and enhancing culturally competent care of patients.
Launched in 1998 as an experimental program, its success has led to full funding by the hospital. To be eligible for the fellowship, applicants must show leadership potential and have, or be working toward, a master’s degree.
“I am really excited about this opportunity and look forward to working on programs that will continue to promote diversity at BWH,” said Telesford-Ximba, who joined BWH a year and a half ago. She received her master’s degree in human resources management from Hawaii Pacific University in Hawaii, where for 10 years she held various positions including critical care nurse, nurse educator, and supervisor of critical care nursing and human resources. A graduate of Fairfield University in Connecticut, she returned to the Boston area to live closer to her family. As a Diversity Fellow, she will continue the programs established by her predecessors and look for new opportunities to promote diversity at BWH.
The first Diversity Fellow was Sharon Rodriguez, RN, BSN, who currently is working toward master’s degree at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy to become a family nurse practitioner. Formerly a staff nurse and nurse-in-charge in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, she is an off-shift nurse administrator, managing hospital operations on weekends and weekday evenings. During her fellowship, she became acutely aware of the nationwide shortage of nurses and how that situation relates to staff of color.
“During the next 15 years, half the RN workforce in the United States will retire. By 2020, we will need to recruit 1.7 million nurses, but only 635,000 will be available based on current trends,” said Rodriguez. “One way to fill that gap is to appeal to minority men and women, who may have an interest in the profession but often are unaware of how to access it. We need to increase community outreach efforts to get nursing on everyone’s radar screen.”
“This is not a black or white issue, it’s a manpower issue,” she added. “To solve it, we need a business plan to get more people into the system and help them navigate through it, as well as retain them.”
During her fellowship, Rodriguez worked to enhance BWH’s Minority Mentorship Program, expanding it to a 10-week summer internship. It is offered to nursing students in their junior year of a bachelor’s program, or for those in an associate’s program after one clinical rotation. Of the seven minority students from area nursing schools who were paired with BWH nurses during the first summer, five were subsequently hired as nurses.
During the past two years, the minority nursing staff at BWH—including those of Asian, African-American, Indian or Hispanic descent—has risen from four to seven percent, closer to the nationwide figure of nine percent. But there is considerable disparity between staffing rates and the patient population, which at BWH is 20 to 30 percent Hispanic and 10 to 15 percent African-American.
“That’s why training in culturally competent care is so important,” said Norma Gerton, RN, MS, who served as the second Diversity Fellow. Formerly a staff nurse on Tower 10AB, she is now a part-time, off-shift administrator.
During her fellowship year, Gerton expanded the cultural competency presentations provided to new nursing graduates to a monthly series that focused on diversity issues. “We also are developing a cross-cultural curriculum and workshop that will be offered to all BWH clinical staff,” she said. “The goal of this workshop is to enhance quality patient care by facilitating communication between clinicians, clarifying patient issues and providing a collaborative approach to patient care.”
“The fellowship also imparts valuable skills in management, budget and disciplinary matters as well as labor law,” she added. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for minority nurses to advance to leadership positions and work as liaisons throughout the hospital to help patients of all cultures receive the highest quality care.”