December 7, 2001

School of Nursing active in alleviating shortage

Featured Image

Linda Norman submitted a grant proposal to develop a program aimed at promoting cultural and intercultural competence in nurses worldwide. (photo by Dana Johnson)

School of Nursing active in alleviating shortage

Since reports were released in 2000 foretelling of a nursing shortage that would wreak havoc on the health care industry by 2020, many in health care have offered solutions.

But Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is doing more than discussing ways to alleviate the shortfalls expected in the workforce. Realizing that one of the solutions to the pending crisis is recruitment, Linda Norman, senior associate dean of Academics at VUSN, submitted a grant proposal to develop a program aimed at promoting cultural and intercultural competence in nurses worldwide.

The grant, “Developing Intercultural Competence in Multicultural Health Care Workers,” was approved by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) for $183,000. It allowed for the creation of a six-site consortium, which will serve as teaching institutions for this program.

“As we face the nursing shortage, there will be an increasing amount of nurses from different countries and backgrounds recruited to fill in the gaps,” Norman said. “The recruitment will be necessary to meet the shortage needs. There will be many avenues of nursing that we will all need to understand—the culture of nursing, how other nurses are educated and what roles nurses play in other countries.

“As we work to incorporate nurses from all nations into roles of health care delivery, it will be very important to pay attention to the differences in practices, languages and titles.”

Issues the consortium will need to address when developing the curriculum include: models of care and care delivery systems; the role of the family, relatives and significant others in the delivery of health and social care in different cultures; the similarities and differences in the roles of registered nurses, other professionals and members of health and social care teams in participating countries; religious beliefs and moral values; and how political, economic and cultural differences influence the way of life, health problems and health care provision.

Vanderbilt is the lead institution for the United States, while Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom is the leading European site. The other consortium sites include Queens College in Charlotte, N.C., Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Ky., Upsala University in Sweden and Pohjos-Savo Polytechnic in Finland.

The three-year grant will allow the institutions involved to “foster and strengthen transatlantic ties by tackling together the challenge posed by the increasingly global nature of the nursing workforce,” according to the grant.

“While there is much recognition in the literature that it is essential for nurses and other workers in health and social care to be educationally prepared in order to be able to meet the needs of multi-ethnic patients and clients, there is little evidence of empirical research or projects into multicultural workforces and their implications for professional education,” the grant reads. “This project seeks to redress the balance.”

“The nursing shortage is not just an American problem,” Norman said. “This is something that all countries are dealing with. This program will bring together a diverse group of health care professionals in an effort to help combat this problem.”

Norman said the group will spend the first year creating the curriculum. The program is equipped for 48 students who will be instructed using Web-based techniques as well as taking part in a three-week exchange program. Students will be prepared for their exchanges by appropriate language courses and practical cultural information in addition to the required nursing protocols.

The group hopes to raise awareness of how culture operates in health care delivery while helping prepare nurses to work in various health care systems worldwide.