The Importance of Mentoring
Research is clear that creating a healthcare system that empowers everyone to live their healthiest lives requires the nursing workforce to be reflective of the population that it serves.
The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity underscores this imperative throughout its report: “as discussed… developing a more diverse nursing workforce will be key to achieving the goals of reducing health disparities, providing culturally relevant care for all populations and fostering health equity.”
Furthermore, as nurses comprise the largest sector of the healthcare workforce, changing their demographics has the potential to transform the U.S. healthcare system while removing barriers to care, addressing interpersonal and structural racism, and cultivating social justice. However, diversifying the nursing pipeline entails more than recruiting and admitting a diverse student body. It is critical to build an inclusive environment where all students receive individualized support and are encouraged to thrive academically and professionally.
Lincoln University of Pennsylvania (Lincoln University), the nation’s first degree-granting Historically Black College and University (HBCU), reports that 85% of their students are Black or African American, while most nursing students across the country are White (60% reported in 2019). Studies have shown that common barriers to the success for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) nursing students have included a lack of financial support, inadequate emotional, moral, and technical support, insufficient academic advising and program mentoring, and inadequate professional socialization.
To address these gaps, the PA-AC’s Nurse Diversity Council (PA-NDC) and Lincoln University partnered in 2020 to start the PA-ACCEL Mentorship Program. The PA-ACCEL program components were created to address the social determinant of health of educational attainment for the students who participate and the transformation of access to care and services for those who will benefit from their successful career as professional nurses.
Mentorship within the nursing workforce is the link to a healthier future for all. As discussed in the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action’s Health Equity Toolkit (Health Equity Toolkit), an upstream approach to public health practice requires a focus on and dismantling of the systems that perpetuate the same inequitable outcomes. The PA-ACCEL is designed to address structural inequities in our healthcare system by equipping nurses from underrepresented backgrounds with more tools to pursue their educational goals and to be the healthcare leaders that they are fully capable of becoming.