Legal / Ethical | Nursing Practices

The Importance of Diversity in Nursing  

  • Diversity in nursing is an important concept for any healthcare organization to focus on. 
  • Understanding diversity creates a better workplace and creates better patient experiences.  
  • Learning about diversity concepts helps prevent stereotypes from taking hold in the workplace.

Amy White

RN-MSN – Chief Nursing Officer

December 06, 2022
Simmons University

Diversity in nursing allows healthcare workers to have many opportunities to learn about the effectiveness of varying approaches among various populations.  This promotes the development of culturally competent practices and allows nurses to adjust to the various approaches to care.   

It also brings about an awareness involving varying attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs.   

Importance of Diversity in Nursing

In order for nurses to provide the best possible care for all patients and to help minimize racial and ethnic differences, medical professionals need to acknowledge and recognize differences among varying populations.  A lack of diversity in the workforce limits the capabilities of patient care and places certain constraints on the patients. It’s important for a healthcare workforce to have diversity among the staff so the different healthcare workers can provide care to a diverse patient population. 

 Diversity in nursing should be promoted among healthcare professionals through: 

Nurse Managers and leaders need to ensure that the decision-making process, partnerships with others, and governance all promote equality and diversity.  

 Policies and procedures should also be in place and applied in various healthcare organizations that focus on the implementation of diversity, inclusion, and equality among its employees.   

diversity and inclusion definition

Why Inclusion in Nursing Is Vital

 A diverse group of staff is necessary and beneficial to help patients from all backgrounds to feel more comfortable during their hospital stay.  If patients encounter positive experiences during their hospital stay, it can produce more positive medical outcomes related to increased satisfaction and recovery periods.  

Diversity among nurses also gives staff additional opportunities to learn about more effective approaches that may work better for patients of differing cultures and ethnic backgrounds.  This type of practice promotes the development of more culturally competent practices and assists nurses to share useful information with one another. 

Diversity and inclusion are also essential. It ensures that all colleagues and patients are cared for effectively and understood despite any differing cultural practices.  The following are some ways that nurse leaders/managers can encourage nurses to be more inclusive and demonstrate equality among all patients: 

  • Create a sense of belonging 
  • Encourage staff and patients to share their views 
  • Foster individuality  
  • Provide opportunities to learn and develop  
  • Provide education through work groups and literature  
  • Give them a voice in the decision-making process  

Bias and Stereotypes in Nursing

In healthcare organizations, there can be stereotypes that can become detrimental if not attended to in a proper way.  It is first important to understand the differences between a “bias” and a “stereotype”. An unconscious bias is considered an unfair prejudice or unsupported judgment in favor for or against a thing, person, or group as compared to another thing, person, or group.  As result of the bias, certain people receive benefits while others are penalized.   

Stereotyping is different. It represents a mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and often leads to an oversimplified opinion, uncritical judgment, or prejudiced attitude.  Stereotypes in the workplace make assumptions about individuals based on a person’s gender, culture, religious beliefs, or physical attributes.  

While some stereotyping may be done innocently, the risk of hurting other’s feelings and making others feel less than and worthless can end up turning into larger issues involving discrimination.  Once this type of action takes place, healthcare organizations typically experience productivity issues and decreased positive medical outcomes.  Often, legal problems can result from the bias and stereotypes experienced by staff and patients.   

Employees that feel respected and safe are often more joyful about coming to work than those who feel looked down upon or treated differently.  Decreasing stereotypes is essential for both employees and patients as it increases job satisfaction with higher performance levels among employees and offers patients a sense of security and safety without judgements.  

Diversity training can help prevent stereotyping in the workplace and provide methods to prevent these topics from becoming an issue.  The training consists of: 

  • Workshops 
  • Role-playing 
  • Specific stereotyping education 

diversity in nursing articles

The Bottom Line

Diversity is ever present in healthcare organizations, and it is important that each organization works together to function as a cohesive team that appreciates individuality.   

When an organization works through diversity and inclusion issues, the organization reaps rewards, productivity increases, employee loyalty increases, workers are more dedicated in their work performance, and more positive patient outcomes are produced.   

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