Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? By preparing young adults for college and careers, mentoring helps develop the future talent pipeline for skilled professions like nursing. Mentors are especially important for students from demographics that are underrepresented in the workforce.
According to the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN), out of the nearly three million registered nurses (RNs) in the United States, only 3.6 percent are Hispanic even though Hispanics make up 17 percent of the total population. Many Hispanic students and parents are not aware of the multiple opportunities that exist in the nursing profession.
2018 marks the fourth year of the NAHN Hispanics in Nursing campaign to increase the number of Hispanic nurses, which is made possible through a grant received from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Science Education Partnership (SEPA). In addition to providing information about which classes to take in high school to prepare for nursing prerequisites and highlighting the profiles of Latino nurse role models, the campaign provides access to Mentors Connection, a database of Latino nurses who can provide career guidance, advice, and cultural perspective to prospective nurses.
As the principal investigator over the NIH-SEPA grant, Angie Millan, RN, DNP, FAAN, NAHN project director and the nursing director of Children’s Medical Services for the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, aims to inform new generations of Latinos to consider nursing as a worthy and rewarding career, and provide the guidance, support and resources needed to achieve nursing career aspirations.
“The Hispanic community is very young, with an average age of around 26, and our numbers continue to increase,” Angie said. “However, the number of Hispanic nurses is not keeping up with the growth. We need help in communicating with parents, students, teachers, and counselors that nursing is a great career, and that to be prepared, students need to know the math and science requirements.”
For Bella Mercado, RN, a recent graduate from the East Los Angeles College of Nursing and former Hispanics in Nursing mentee, having a mentor helped her see the possibilities in her education and nursing career despite setbacks.
“As a first generation college student, I had a steep learning curve and many challenges,” Bella said. “For family and financial reasons, I had to put my education on pause several times. The support and encouragement of loved ones and my mentor made my graduation so special and meaningful. I have found so much encouragement and inspiration in seeing my mentor being an advocate of positive change within communities of color and marginalized populations. I have learned so much from my mentor, and her personal story has helped me in a tremendous way.”
In addition to providing encouragement and inspiration, Bella credits her mentor for helping her transition from nursing school to the workforce.
“As a recent graduate, I had known only books, tests, and practicals for the last couple of years and the application process for new-graduate positions and new-graduate resumes was like nothing I had ever done,” Bella said. “Having my mentor come alongside me during that process and help me fine-tune my resume was so appreciated. Seasoned nurses helping guide new nurses is how we are going to continue the next generation of nurses who make positive change in the lives of their patients and in the medical field. We need this wealth passed on to us and mentorship meets this need.”
For more information about the NAHN Hispanics in Nursing program and to find a Latino mentor that is compatible with you and your nursing goals, visit hispanicsinnursing.org. For more information about the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN), visit nahnnet.org.