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New Initiative Tackles Central Valley Nursing Shortage; The California Endowment's Pilot Project Seeks to Improve Diversity

Submitted by: California Endowment, The

Categories: Human Resources & Diversity

Posted: Mar 26, 2002 – 11:00 PM EST


Mar. 26 /CSRwire/ - A three-year, $10 million pilot project funded by The California Endowment, the state's largest health foundation, designed to increase the number of nurses from underrepresented groups as part of the battle against a growing nursing shortage in the Central Valley, was launched today at Fresno City College. The Endowment's President & CEO Robert K. Ross, M.D. and senior staff were joined by a team of California-based health care, advocacy, educational and communications organizations to kick-off the Central Valley Nursing Work Force Diversity Initiative in the region's six-county area -- Fresno, Kings, Kern, Madera, Merced and Tulare counties.

While the nursing shortage is statewide, The Central Valley is more severely impacted because of its largely rural nature, high poverty rates, low number of nurses and physicians per capita and limited health care infrastructure. In addition, few have looked to improve recruitment and training of nurses from diverse backgrounds as part of the solution.

The Central Valley organizations that have been funded to implement the strategies of the initiative are the Health Professions Education Foundation, Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, San Joaquin Valley Health Consortium, UCSF Center for California Health Workforce Studies and The Rios Company. The outcomes from this initiative will be evaluated to determine if this effort can serve as a model for addressing the nursing shortage in other regions of the state.

"In order to provide quality health care in California, the nursing work force must begin to better reflect the state's changing demographics," said Ross. "This initiative is a regional, collaborative approach meant to increase the number of nurses and improve the diversity of this critical health work force. By tapping into populations such as minorities and males that have not historically been primary recruitment targets, we hope to begin addressing a nursing shortage that exists statewide."

Noted Jai Lee Wong, senior program officer at The Endowment who is spearheading the effort, "We are concerned that while 10 percent of the state's population lives in the Central Valley, only five percent of the state's registered nurses reside in the region. In addition, nearly 80 percent of the state's nurses are white females while between 40 to 50 percent of the residents in these six counties are Latino. This disparity underscores the need for a more diverse nursing work force."

Key components of the multi-pronged, nursing strategy include:

-- Supporting scholarships and faculty fellowships for underrepresented nursing students and faculty committed to working in the San Joaquin Valley

-- Expanding the capacity of nursing degree programs in the Valley to attract, enroll and retain diverse student bodies

-- Developing policy and advocacy efforts at the local, state and federal levels to promote racial, ethnic and gender diversity as a means to address the shortage

-- Providing cultural competency, technical assistance to strengthen the ability of educators and health care providers to recognize and address cultural barriers to care

-- Creating communications and marketing efforts to promote positive images of nursing as a profession among diverse audiences, and to produce regionally targeted marketing tools designed to support nursing career promotion and recruitment efforts

The California Endowment was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment has regional offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno and San Diego with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment makes grants to organizations and institutions that directly benefit the health and well-being of the people of California. For more information, visit their Web site at www.calendow.org.

For more information, please contact:

Jeff Okey The California Endowment
Phone: (818) 932-3351
Samuel Norman The Rios Company
Phone: (559) 485-1320


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