BOX 5-4

Nurse Profile: Kenya D. Haney and Billy A. Caceres

Building Diversity in Nursing, One Student at a Time

Despite improvements to the demographic make up of the nursing workforce in recent decades, the workforce remains predominantly white, female, and middle aged. Racial and ethnic minorities make up 34 percent of the U.S. population but only 12 percent of the registered nurse (RN) workforce, and just 7 percent of RNs are men (AACN, 2010). And diversity matters to patients: many studies have shown that a more diverse health care workforce results in greater access to care for minority populations (IOM, 2004). Two nurses, an African American woman and a Hispanic man, both under age 35, illustrate the growing diversity of the profession and the importance of offering various educational paths as an entry into nursing.

Kenya D. Haney, RN, was a married mother of two in 2004 when she was trying to decide between nursing school and law school. She had taken classes toward a bachelor’s degree in communications and knew she would need a more flexible program. She chose the associate’s degree in nursing program at St. Louis Community College in Missouri: it offered a part-time option and child care at $2 an hour, which her educational grants covered. If the child care had not been available, she would have waited until her children were older, she said, and then “gone back to finish the communications degree and gone on to law school. There’s just not a doubt in my mind.”

After graduating, Ms. Haney got a job in intensive care; entered the

Kenya D. Haney, RN

Kenya D. Haney, RN

bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) program for RNs at the University of Missouri, St. Louis; and joined the Breakthrough to Nursing initiative at the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA). The NSNA initiative aims to increase the number of men entering the profession, recruit and retain nurses of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds, support nursing students with physical disabilities, and increase enrollment of young and nontraditional students. It works toward these goals by making peers available to students in need of support. Ms. Haney became its director in 2008 and NSNA president in 2009. “You know, we’re not the answer to everything,” she said

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