Associate Professor Pamela Johnson Rowsey, PhD, RN, was awarded a grant by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) to increase the level of student diversity in the School of Nursing’s programs.
The three-year, $640,000 project, Careers Beyond the Bedside, aims to increase the number of undergraduate students from historically underrepresented ethnic minorities — including African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians — by 40 percent. Drs. Rumay Alexander, Beverly Foster, Cheryl Giscombe, Shawn Kneipp, Vicki Kowlowitz, and Ms. Julie Page will work with Dr. Rowsey to fulfill this mission.
The grant comes at a time when the School is redoubling its commitment to increase enrollment of students from diverse backgrounds. Dean Swanson recently appointed Dr. Rowsey as Coordinator of Student Diversity and Recruitment in response to data that shows the SON’s student enrollments do not currently reflect the diversity of North Carolina. For example, although 22 percent of North Carolinians are Non-Hispanic Black, African-Americans represented only 7 to 9 percent of the School’s undergraduate students over the last four academic years. In the MSN program, that percentage has ranged from 4 to 5 percent for the same time period.
“The SON population should ideally reflect what our state looks like,” says Dr. Rowsey, who also points out that this is a national issue. “We need to address as a profession that the United States is going through a profound demographic change. It’s our responsibility to increase the number of nurses in the workforce who look like the people we serve.”
Dr. Rowsey’s first step is strengthening recruitment efforts of underrepresented ethnic minority students with high academic achievement and an interest in nursing. She will partner with local community colleges and historically black colleges and universities, as well as the University’s Carolina Covenant program. She will collaborate with the SON’s Offices of Admissions and Student Services and Multicultural Affairs in identifying students. Her hope is not only to recruit more students into the undergraduate programs, but to usher these students to further their education in graduate programs.