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Our Nurse of the Week is Yolanda Nelson, an alumna and nursing professor at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) who created a proven system to keep black nursing students in school. Her program Moving Forward Together was launched as a mentorship program to help black nursing students overcome barriers to entry in the nursing profession.

The US is rapidly growing more diverse, making the care provided by nurses of color especially valuable. According to Nelson, people of color often seek medical care with providers who are of the same race or ethnic background. 

The number of black nurses is low at most healthcare facilities and black students comprise a small portion of nursing students nationwide. This is largely due to barriers to entry including inadequate academic preparation in high school and a lack of diverse faculty in the field.

Nelson tells news.tcnj.edu, “As a student at TCNJ, I didn’t have any role models who looked like me. It would have helped if I had a mentor to encourage me.”

Nelson has thrived as a case manager and practicing clinician and served in leadership roles at several hospitals in New Jersey throughout her career. She has personally witnessed a lack of mentoring as another road block to increasing diversity in nursing and healthcare.

To help address this issue, Nelson launched Moving Forward Together when she joined TCNJ’s faculty in 2017. Moving Forward Together is a mentorship program that matches TCNJ’s black nursing students with working black nurse mentors, some of whom are alumni. Mentors are “someone they can lean on” in dealing with a professor, developing study skills, or finding their first job. So far, Nelson has matched 30 students with mentors and has seen six participants graduate.

To learn more about olanda Nelson, an alumna and nursing professor at The College of New Jersey who created a proven system to keep black nursing students in school, visit here

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