Changes in the Diversity of Nursing Students at a Southern California School of Nursing

The lack of racial and ethnic diversity among health professionals, including the nursing profession, have stimulated recommendations to increase diversity (Smedley, Butler, & Bristow, 2004; Sullivan Commission, 2004). Registered Nurses are the largest portion of healthcare professionals in the United States, and they are predominantly female and White (Health Resources and Services Administration, 2014). Schools of Nursing (SON) are the entry way into the nursing profession and student enrollment could be improved to reflect the racially and ethnically diverse population. Research examining racial and ethnic diversity among nursing students is essential to meet these recommendations. The race and ethnicity of the students enrolled in the school of nursing are analyzed between two cross-sectional years using previously collected institutional data to determine if diversity rates changed over time. Additionally, an exploratory descriptive study was performed through an online survey of diverse nursing students with the intent to describe their perceptions of the admission process. The differences in racial and ethnic diversity among nursing students at a Southern California university between two time periods ten years apart was only statistically significant for the increase in the number of students identifying as Asian. Secondly, the results from the survey indicated observed differences between racial and ethnic groups of first year nursing students who participated in the survey. Differences in underrepresented racial and ethnic student perceptions were detected, the main findings being differences in the perceptions of cultural competency and issues surrounding bias.