Nursing Programs Help Recruit, Retain Minority Students
Published January 2007
Deasa Dorsey grew up “surrounded by medicine.” Her mother is a nurse, her father is in pharmaceutical sales. Given her parents’ influence, Dorsey thought it was inevitable she would pursue a career in science.
“I considered majoring in biology,” Dorsey says. “But nurses are in high demand, and I like the idea of a career where I can work one-on-one with patients and make a difference in their lives.”
Dorsey, a sophomore in the UC College of Nursing, points out the program is competitive, which is why she surrounds herself with “people who let me know I’m not in this by myself” and who support her academically and socially.
She does that by participating in the college’s ENSTEPS (Ethnic Nursing Students Together Target- ing Excellence, Professionalism and Success) organization.
ENSTEPS was started in 2004 by three freshman minority students who wanted to form a support network for minorities in nursing, including men, to help them excel in academics, their profession and community service.
The latest ENSTEPS program, called Caring Through Sharing Mentoring, began last fall and pairs students with nursing professionals for mentoring experiences.
“The program has only been around for a few months and we already have 30 mentors paired with one or more students,” says Lavern Sutton, director of recruitment and adviser for ENSTEPS. “Students are benefiting from the knowledge, expertise and advice that mentors can offer.”
“People in need of nursing care come from different ethnic, economic and social backgrounds,” says Andrea Lindell, DNSc, College of Nursing dean. “That’s why it’s important for us to do whatever we can to encourage diversity in nursing.”
Currently, there are 130 undergraduate minority students in the college. In 2004, there were 105. The opportunity to guide students through their nursing career is one reason Samirah Brown, RN, a renal transplant nurse clinician at University Hospital, got involved in the program.
“Mentoring is about sharing your knowledge and expertise while offering support,” says Brown. “I want to be able to provide that to students through this program.
“Nursing school is difficult enough, in addition to being among few minority students,” says Brown. “Having additional support from a mentoring program could have made school a little less stressful.”
Brown is paired with Dorsey and encourages her to call or e-mail her with questions about academics, the profession or anything else she wants, anytime.
“Sam and I meet at least twice a month,” says Dorsey. “I’ve shadowed her to see how she interacts with patients, nurses and physicians. I’ve also attended nursing awards programs with Sam and had the chance to talk with other nurses and hear their stories.
“We also do fun stuff like going to dinner with other students and mentors in the program.”
“Participating in the program doesn’t take a lot of time, and the reason I do it is simple—I want to empower Deasa to succeed,” says Brown.
In addition to running programs that help retain and mentor minority students, the college also actively recruits minorities.
In alignment with UC|21’s goal of placing students at the center and becoming a university of choice, the College of Nursing developed a Peer Recruitment and Ambassador Program to encourage students to attend UC.
Throughout the year, students from Hughes High School can participate in activities designed to prepare them for college, including an ACT preparation class, assistance with college applications and shadowing a UC student.
“High school students are given the chance to experience college firsthand, and we hope it encourages them to pursue higher education,” says Sutton.
Since the program began in the fall of 2004, 17 minority students have enrolled at UC. The program expanded to Aiken High School last fall, and the number of students taking advantage of the program has grown from 10 to 20.
“I’m honored to be in the mentoring program,” says Brown, “and am pleased the College of Nursing is taking steps to recruit and retain minority students.”