Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) work with diverse groups of patients, breaking down barriers to provide inclusive healthcare services and meeting the nation’s medical needs. While mainly white females have dominated the profession, the FNP workforce is increasingly reflecting the U.S. population to deliver culturally competent healthcare.
Healthcare professionals agree that diversity in nursing, including in the FNP field, promotes a deeper understanding of the components that impact a patient’s well-being. The move to a diverse FNP workforce has grown in a positive direction, said Joyce Knestrick, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).
“Diversity gives NPs a stronger voice to influence healthcare. Our strong voice and our collective experiences working with and within diverse populations can improve healthcare for all of our patients,” she said. “Championing diversity is not a one-time talking point but rather a process to ensure, as NPs and as an organization, we continue to move the discussion of diversity and inclusion ahead now and in the future.”
Diversity is expressed in many ways, including gender, sexuality, race, religious beliefs, age, physical ability, gender identity, political views and socioeconomic status. The shift in U.S. demographics underscores the need for greater diversity in nursing, including in the FNP profession. Leading the charge are registered nurses (RNs) who are seeking MSN careers to take leadership roles in primary care.
FNP Diversity in Nursing Education
More than 15 years ago, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recognized the unequal treatment that minorities receive in the healthcare system due to a lack of diverse providers.
The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) said diversity must begin at the earliest stages of an MSN career to be responsive to the continually evolving needs of society. In other words, nursing school faculty members who teach and train the next generation of FNPs should reflect the diversity of the public. Despite efforts to encourage faculty diversity, the NONPF said less than 16 percent of full-time faculty members in nursing education are from minority backgrounds.
“Clearly, the return on efforts to create a body of nurses who reflect the plurality of the nation has been insufficient,” the organization said. “Understanding factors that undermine the achievement of meaningful diversity and adopting innovative ways to create inclusive environments could strengthen the presence of NP faculty of color.”
The NONPF said increasing ethnic and racial diversity, in particular, would bolster nursing education, practice, service, academic achievement and research. Diversity in the classroom helps future FNPs prepare for treating the communities they serve, the organization said. The NONPF said strategies that should be implemented into NP programs and workplaces to increase diversity and inclusion in the profession include:
- Evaluating the recruiting and retention strategies for NP faculty
- Adopting formal education and development programs for inclusive leadership in NP programs
- Continually evaluating, modifying and advancing diversity efforts
- Establishing collaborative relationships with professional nursing organizations that promote diversity
- Developing diversity initiatives that encourage welcoming, culturally responsive and inclusive workplaces
Diversity in the FNP Workforce
According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), 86 percent of NPs are white females. At the same time, U.S. census data shows whites will be in the minority by 2045.
“A lack of diversity among advanced practice RNs raises concerns about the ability of these nurse providers to meet the cultural and linguistic demands of 21st century patients, families and communities,” researchers said in “The Untapped Potential of the Nurse Practitioner Workforce in Reducing Health Disparities.”
The Campaign for Action, a coordinated effort to increase and improve the nursing workforce in the United States, has been trying to bridge the gap in FNP diversity. Its efforts include encouraging partnerships with nursing organizations ― such as the National Black Nurses Association, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, the Asian American/Pacific Islander Nurses Association and the Philippine Nurses Association ― and minority communities.
The Campaign for Action also created a diversity steering committee that developed benchmarks that states can use to create diversity plans. Among its targets are these criteria for effective plans:
- Strategies should focus on the state’s population and demographic needs.
- Efforts should use lessons learned from other state-level coalitions, institutions and minority organizations.
- Work should emphasize sustainability and plans that can be replicated and adopted by other organizations and states.
- Strategies should address leadership diversity, education progression, removal of practice and care barriers, interprofessional collaboration and data collection initiatives.
The Campaign for Action said nurse leaders, including FNPs, play pivotal roles in increasing diversity in the FNP workforce. Duquesne University’s online master’s in nursing program embraces diversity in nursing education and practice. Students enrolled in the FNP MSN degree program can add a Transcultural Nursing concentration to their coursework. The concentration focuses on minimizing healthcare disparities in vulnerable populations.
About Duquesne University’s Online Master of Science in Nursing in Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner
Duquesne University’s online master’s in nursing programs prepare graduates for careers as FNPs to help underserved populations across the United States. The university offers Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner MSN and Post-Master’s Certificate programs to meet the needs of all RNs.
Duquesne University provides one-on-one faculty support to encourage success at every step. The program prepares students for the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCP) and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Family Nurse Practitioner certification examinations. For more information, contact Duquesne University today.
Creating a Strong Diverse Voice: JNP
NONPF Calls for Greater Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Nurse Practitioner Education: NONPF
The Untapped Potential of the Nurse Practitioner Workforce in Reducing Health Disparities: Policy Politics & Nursing Practice
A More Diverse Nursing Workforce: AJN