A new project being led by Western Michigan University’s (WMU) Bronson School of Nursing is working to draw more minority students into its nursing program. The project aims to recruit, retain, and train nursing students from underserved and underrepresented groups and is an expansion of a pilot program that was launched a few years ago. After a successful pilot, the university was awarded a federal grant to expand the program.

The new $2 million project, titled the Empowering Nursing Students for Success Project, is a solution to a diversity in healthcare issue across the state of Michigan. According to the US Census Bureau and Michigan Annual Nurse Survey Project, 20 percent of people in Michigan are black and Latino, but less than 8 percent of the state’s nurses represent minorities. With race and ethnicity a factor in many illnesses, greater diversity is more important than ever.

WMU nursing student, Yessica Garcia, is the oldest of four children of Mexican immigrants who migrated to the US 20 years ago. After being forced to translate for her parents and their nurses when she was just five years old, her family eventually began avoiding healthcare altogether. The experience inspired Garcia to pursue nursing and help families similar to her own.

Denise Neely, vice president and chief nursing officer at Bronson Methodist Hospital tells WMUK.org that this diversity project is important: “We have a diverse population that we take care of, and so I think it’s very important that we reflect that in our employees. The grant should really do a lot for our area to help us support those diverse populations and support people getting into nursing careers.”

Students at WMU enter the nursing school as sophomores, so the Empowering Nursing Students for Success Project recruits students already attending the university. With increased funding, the program also now offers students scholarships and stipends to help offset the financial barriers of receiving a nursing education.

To learn more about WMU’s Empowering Nursing Students for Success Project to increase diversity in nursing in the state of Michigan, visit here.

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