by Catherine Alicia Georges, EdN, RN, FAAN,
Associate Professor and Chairperson, Department of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY.
Estelle Osborn was a pioneer in nursing. She worked arduously to make sure that Blacks were included in the profession of nursing and was active in professional nursing organizations both Black and White.
So has Phyllis Jenkins. She was the first project director of a federally funded program at Lehman College in the early 1970’s to increase the number of racial and ethnic minorities entering and completing nursing programs. She was a founder of the New York Black nurses Association and the National Black Nurses Association. Her services as a medical officer in Sierra Leone were also a first. She is an advocate for persons from vulnerable and underserved populations and in increasing the racial and ethnic minority participation in nursing.
The Critical challenges that the health care delivery system and the health professions face, are a shortage of registered nurses, globalization of the health workforce, escalating costs of health care, lack of health insurance for over 40 million persons, patient safety , quality of care and the continued health disparities of racial and ethnic minorities.
There has been an attempt to increase the number of persons entering the nursing profession but the mix of racial and ethnic minorities have not been significantly changed.
The good news is that more people are interested in nursing as a profession. There are some federal state and local efforts being implemented to eliminate the health disparities but the morbidity and mortality statistics still remain grim.
– Compiled by Azizza Johnson and Bernice Elizabeth Green