“This program was established in keeping with a long tradition of commitment to Black nursing leadership,” says Terry Fulmer, dean of the College of Nursing. “Through education and mentorship, the institute serves as a resource to empower nurses who have shown great potential as health care leaders and seeks to expand the opportunities available to them.”
New York, N.Y. -The NYU College of Nursing in January 2006 launched a Leadership Institute for Black Nurses to empower nurses of African descent who seek career advancement in education, research, and administration.
“This program was established in keeping with a long tradition of commitment to Black nursing leadership,” says Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the College of Nursing. “Through education and mentorship, the institute serves as a resource to empower nurses who have shown great potential as health care leaders and seeks to expand the opportunities available to them.”
The Institute was conceived by Dr. Fulmer with Yvonne Wesley, PhD, RN, FAAN, adjunct associate professor of nursing and an alumna of the NYU College of Nursing. It is directed by NYU faculty member May Dobal PhD, RN. It was founded not only to advance Black nurses’ careers but also to address the extreme disparities in health between African-Americans and other groups in the United States.
“When we look at leading health indicators in the United States -whether cancer, heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes-Blacks may not be overrepresented in having those diseases, but they are overrepresented in deaths,” says Dr. Wesley. “Research shows that Blacks receive less quality care even when they have insurance and access to health care.” Dr. Wesley links this unequal treatment, to some extent, to the fact that fewer than five percent of registered nurses are Black, and of these, less than one percent are in senior executive leadership positions, according to the American College of Healthcare Executives. “Seeing the unequal treatment, we wanted to do something very specific for Black nurses,” she says.
The program includes six monthly training sessions and three telephone conference calls over the same period addressing issues in executive leadership. Each of the 14 participants is paired with a leading African-American nurse who serves as a mentor and an advisor on the community-health projects that participants undertake. Mentors include Catherine Alicia Georges, EdD, RN, FAAN, chairperson of the Department of Nursing at Lehman College; May Wykle, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA, dean of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University; Barbara Lowe, RN, MS, chief nursing officer at HHC’s Woodhull Hospital; and Tanya Hardy-Menard, RN, MS, NPP, president of the New York City Black Nurses Association. In an initial meeting, Dean Wykle, who has worked in nursing for 50 years, spoke about how nursing has changed from its early years as a totally segregated profession. Still, she said, there are limited numbers of Black nurses in senior positions.
Dr. Dobal emphasizes the significant role of race in nurses’ self-image and in how they are treated in the workplace. “Black nurses, even those in managerial positions, often feel powerless,” she explains. “For example, when they have the choice, some white patients will choose a white nurse over a Black nurse, assuming the white nurse is senior. This makes it difficult for Black nurses to have major decision-making roles that affect institutional treatment and health care delivery experienced by all patients. One thing is clear: Nurses of color want their voices heard and want to know how they can make changes in how they are treated and valued in the workplace.”
The Institute recruited nurses by contacting chief nursing officers in hospitals, deans of nursing programs, and Black nursing associations. Participants must have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree and have shown leadership ability. Of the 14 current participants, only two were born in the United States, with others from the Caribbean, Africa, and other regions.
The six monthly sessions address individual efficacy, leadership paradigms, negotiation and collaboration, evaluating the impact of project outcomes, the economics of health care, and quality of life and success.
The program focuses particularly on how the nurses see themselves in the professional context and goes on to address various styles of leadership. Participants have begun to design projects that target health problems particularly affecting people of African descent, such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.
The Leadership Institute for Black Nurses aims to help participants not only build on their personal strengths to develop leadership ability, but also gain practical management skills, such as developing a vision, evaluating and measuring program outcomes, and understanding health care management and finances. Dr. Dobal points out that having nurses of color in senior leadership positions will optimally affect important decisions that are made for the community.
The College of Nursing at the College of Dentistry is located on New York University’s historic Greenwich Village campus in New York City. The College of Nursing is one of the leading nursing programs in the United States. The College offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Master of Arts and Post-Master’s Certificate Programs; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Research Theory and Development. For more information, visit www.nyu.edu/nursing.