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Enhancing Nursing Diversity in a Public Health Department

Sherril B. Gelmon, DrPH, College of Urban and Public Affairs, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97207-0751, 503-725-3044, gelmons@pdx.edu, Bonnie J. Kostelecky, RN, MS, MPA, Director of Nursing, Multnomah County Health Department, 1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Floor 14, Portland, OR 97204, and Judith Woodruff, JD, Director of Grants, Northwest Health Foundation, 1500 SW First Avenue, Suite 850, Portland, OR 97201-5884.

Local health departments face multiple challenges in recruiting racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse nurses to provide care for an increasingly diverse population. This presentation will highlight the work of the Multnomah County Health Department (MCHD) in Portland, OR to develop and institutionalize career pathways for health department staff, especially from under-represented communities, who would like to enter the field of nursing or pursue advanced nursing education. As part of the Northwest Health Foundation-funded multi-year nursing initiative, MCHD is being supported to develop multiple strategies to create feasible pathways for health department employees to pursue A.D.N., B.S.N., or advanced practice nursing education. An important part of these strategies is the creation of new or enhanced relationships with multiple nursing education programs, taking advantage of traditional learning formats, distance-education, and other curricular strategies.

This presentation will also demonstrate how a local foundation can both directly and indirectly support a health department to work with others who are also addressing the issues of diversity in the public health nursing workforce. The work described here is being conducted in parallel with two other complimentary NWHF-funded programs: to assist immigrant nurses to develop language proficiency and upgrade skills in order to be able to achieve state licensure for practice, and to develop effective transitions between community college and baccalaureate nursing education programs. MCHD is building upon these initiatives to enhance its internal efforts, thus creating a broader network of relationships among organizations concerned with the composition and preparation of the public health nursing workforce.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Public Health Nursing, Workforce

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Multnomah County Health Department; Northwest Health Foundation
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Cultural Diversity

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA