By David B. Zander
Imagine the following scenario. At community colleges including Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), Century College and others serving minority populations outside the seven county Metro area , small groups of foreign born nursing students meet once a week for an hour with a nursing instructor. Throughout the semester they learn about, discuss and practice effective study methods, strategies to improve their performance on multiple choice tests, differences in teaching methods, study skills, learn strategies to reduce test anxiety, learn strategies to improve critical judgment in patient care, learn about cultural differences such as how European American culture shapes the nursing profession. Topics discussed include how to improve English language skills, self-care, communication with instructors and patients. Outcomes include building supportive relationships with other foreign born nursing students.
Curriculum for a Success in Nursing Program (SINP) has been developed for MCTC and made available to other colleges with a two year associate degree RN program. So far Century College appears to be the only college that previously allocated funding to run a program to help foreign born nursing students. The Courage to Succeed Program (CTS) at Century College successfully reduced the attrition rates down from over 80 to 50 percent. As a result of this tutoring and mentoring the attrition rates are greatly reduced, more of the students go on to successful careers in nursing and Minnesota benefits from an increase in the numbers of nurses completing RN programs and increased diversity in the nursing profession.
Support for such strategies can be found in a report and recommendations by a bipartisan legislative commission (led by Senator Clausen and Representative Huntley) recently submitted to all legislators that focused on the issues in healthcare workforce.
Yet so far this session despite this new legislative report on health care development, we have witnessed only one effort to draft legislation in response to the recommendations. Rep. Karen Clark has introduced HF692 in the House. Senator Foung Hawj carries the companion bill in the senate. We need more legislators to follow their lead and develop ways to invest in strategies that will provide Minnesota with a more diverse health care workforce. Instead we are subjected to uncooperative policy dramas at the state capitol played out against the back drop of an economy in recovery and lower unemployment. Media reports have focused only on a couple of big issues such as roads, transportation, light rail, gas taxes, and health care insurance. Smaller controversies such as pay raises to commissioners gain tedious media attention, with debates mired in ugly noisy partisan bickering, tantrums and accusations, attacks on each other and on the governor, with an eye to future elections and little attempt at civil compromise and partnership. It is my goal in these articles in the next few months to shine a flashlight into some other areas and feature issues of greater importance to the Asian and other minorities that have not received due attention. Who knows what other issues we will find waiting in the wings alongside the legislative commission report and recommendations on healthcare workforce development.
(David Zander is a cultural anthropologist and worked as a research analyst and community liaison for the State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans from 1996 to 2010. He is currently working with legislators on a bill (HF 692/SF 893) that will provide MNSCU with funding to run the SINP and CTS programs.)