Category Archives: Diversity

Aug 15 2014

Mentoring to Build a Culture of Health

Adefemi Betiku was a junior at Rutgers University when he noticed that he wasn’t like the other students.

During a physics class, he raised his hand to answer a question. “Something told me to look around the lab,” he remembers. “When I did, I realized that I was the only black male in the room.”

In fact, he was one of the few black men in his entire junior class of 300.

“There’s a huge problem with black males getting into higher education,” says Betiku, currently a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student at New York University (NYU). “That has a lot to do not just with being marginalized but with how black men perceive themselves and their role in society.”

U.S. Department of Education statistics show that black men represent 7.9 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds in America but only 2.8 percent of undergraduates at public flagship universities. According to the Pew Research Center, 69 percent of black female high school graduates in 2012 enrolled in college by October of that year. For black male high school graduates, the college participation rate was 57 percent—a gap of 12 percent.

Betiku’s interest in the issues black men face, especially in education, deepened at Project L/EARN, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded initiative with the goal of increasing the number of students from underrepresented groups in the fields of health, mental health and health policy research.

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Jul 31 2014

Grants to Build a More Highly Educated Nursing Workforce

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has announced the nine state “Action Coalitions” that will share $2.7 million to advance strategies aimed at creating a more highly educated, diverse nursing workforce. The nine states that are receiving two-year, $300,000 grants through RWJF’s Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN) program are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington state.  For each, this is the second two-year APIN grant and it will be used to continue encouraging strong partnerships between community colleges and universities to make it easier for nurses to transition to higher degrees. 

In its groundbreaking 2010 report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that 80 percent of the nursing workforce be prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher by the year 2020. Right now, about half the nurses in the United States have baccalaureate or higher degrees.

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Jun 26 2014

RWJF’s Work to Make Minority Medical Faculty a Priority

Directors at the National Institutes of Health, medical school deans and presidents, professors, members of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences—these are just a few examples of the impressive roles that Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (AMFDP) alumni have gone on to fill after completing the program. Its impact over three decades of nurturing the careers of physician-scientists from disadvantaged backgrounds is the subject of an article in the May issue of the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Authored by AMFDP Program Director David S. Wilkes, MD, and Deputy Director Nina L. Ardery, MA, MBA, both of the Indiana University School of Medicine, and David M. Krol, MD, MPH, FAAP, a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the article explores the evolution of the AMFDP since RWJF created it in 1983 as the Minority Medical Faculty Development Program. (It was renamed in 2004 in honor of its first director.)

Among key assumptions in creating the program, the authors write, were that minority faculty would encourage more minority students to go to medical school; exposure to more minority faculty would encourage medical schools, hospitals, and others to seek out more candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds; and minority faculty would help medical schools better understand minority issues, ultimately contributing to better care for minority patients in teaching hospitals and stronger scientific study of minority health. 

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Jun 12 2014

New Connections: Offering Grants, Opportunities, and a Dynamic Network

Catherine Malone, DBA, MBA, is a program associate working with the Disparities Portfolio at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).  

I am so excited to share this infographic for New Connections: Increasing Diversity of RWJF Programming, which illustrates the grants component of the program and its impact. New Connections provides research grants and career development opportunities for researchers of diverse backgrounds, while expanding the perspectives that inform Robert Wood Johnson Foundation programming. To date, 115 scholars, spanning seven cohorts, have received research grants coupled with services related to career development through the program. These scholars are junior investigators and mid-career professionals from low-income communities, groups that have been historically underrepresented in research disciplines, and those who are the first in their families to graduate college.

But that is just part of the program. What makes New Connections so unique is the program’s diverse network of more than 1,300 scholars—which includes grantees and alumni, in addition to 1,200 scholars who have not received grant funding through the program. The New Connections Network includes scholars who are eligible for the program and have either (1) applied for a grant and/or (2) participated in one of the career development activities offered by New Connections, such as a major training event, regional meeting, or webinar. The Network’s career development opportunities include methodological training, manuscript and grant writing workshops, and leadership development coaching. 

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Jun 5 2014

RWJF Scholars in the News: Diversity in the nursing workforce, barriers to breast-feeding, child maltreatment, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

HealthLeaders Media features New Careers in Nursing (NCIN), a joint initiative of RWJF and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) that is increasing diversity in the nursing workforce. “The reason [increasing diversity] is important, of course, is because the population of nursing does not really reflect the population at large,” Polly Bednash, PhD, RN, FAAN, says in the story. “We are now working very aggressively to have the number of people entering the profession look more like the population of the United States.” Bednash is NCIN program director and AACN’s CEO.

In an opinion piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jooyoung Lee, PhD, writes that, in the aftermath of mass shootings, the media and public often focus chiefly on the shooters and forget about the families of those slain. “Instead of fixating on the shooter, or retreating into our own lives, let’s remember and honor those who are left behind. Their lives are often difficult and grinding; their grief is immeasurable. Healing from murder is rarely—if ever—a quick or complete process,” writes Lee, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumnus. Read more about Lee’s work.

Living in neighborhoods with high rates of violence can affect students’ academic performance, according to a study from RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumnus from Patrick Sharkey, PhD. The Washington Post reports that the study found that neighborhood violence that occurred within seven days of a test appeared to reduce Black children’s performance on language arts assessments. “When violence is in the air, when the threat of violence is in the air, then it becomes something that spills over to affect not just people who are involved, but everyone who lives in the community,” Sharkey says.

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May 30 2014

Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge: The May 2014 Issue

Have you signed up to receive Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge? The monthly Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) e-newsletter will keep you up to date on the work of the Foundation’s nursing programs, and the latest news, research, and trends relating to academic progression, leadership, and other essential nursing issues. Following are some of the stories in the May issue.

Nursing Job Outlook Sunny

Nursing graduates can take heart from long-term projections that show they have one of the hottest degrees around. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that more than half a million positions for registered nurses (RNs) will open between 2012 and 2022. An additional 525,000 nurses will be needed to replace those leaving the field. However, experts say that regional variations in employment opportunities for nurses should be expected. The outlook is especially good for nurses with bachelor’s degrees in nursing (BSNs) and higher.

Study: Nursing School Diversity Initiatives Mostly Successful

Do “pipeline programs” aimed at increasing student diversity in nursing schools actually work? The answer is ‘Yes...but,’ according to a study led by J. Margo Brooks Carthon, PhD, APRN, an alumnus of the RWJF New Connections program and an RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar. Her study found that significantly more Latino and Asian students enrolled in nursing schools with pipeline programs than without, but enrollment among Native American and Alaskan Indian students decreased at pipeline schools.

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May 27 2014

52 Schools of Nursing to Provide 400 Scholarships Through RWJF’s New Careers in Nursing Program

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced awards to 52 schools of nursing that will comprise the final cohort of its prestigious New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program (NCIN). In the upcoming academic year, the schools will use these grants to support traditionally underrepresented students who are making a career switch to nursing through an accelerated baccalaureate or master’s degree program. NCIN is a program of RWJF and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Each NCIN Scholar has already earned a bachelor’s degree in another field, and is making a transition to nursing through an accelerated nursing degree program, which prepares students to assume the role of  registered nurse in as little as 12-18 months.

In addition to a $10,000 scholarship, NCIN scholars receive other support to help them meet the demands of an accelerated degree program. All NCIN grantee schools maintain leadership and mentoring programs for their scholars, as well as a pre-entry immersion program to help them succeed.

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May 9 2014

Diversity Forges Possibilities and Paths to Leadership

Deidre Walton, JD, MSN, RN-PHN, is the 11th president of the National Black Nurses Association. She is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College with more than 30 years managed care experience in nursing practice, education, and administration. Walton is a retired commissioned officer for the U.S. Army, holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the founder of the Imani Community.

Deidre Walton

I fully embrace the American Nurses Association’s 2014 theme for National Nurses Week: Nurses Leading the Way. This theme flows from the clarion call from the Institute of Medicine that nurses should be full partners with physicians and other health professionals in redesigning health care in the United States.

Strong leadership is critical if the vision of a transformed health care system is to be realized. Because the demographics of the United States are increasingly more diverse, it is also imperative that the field considers not only leaders from diverse backgrounds but also how to lead diverse constituents as partners in our mission.

National Nurses Week HC Blog Logo

Strong leadership is also tied to the achievement of a transformed health care system. But the transformation can only come by the field embracing diversity. That is the essential first step. What follows is greater success in combatting health disparities, and supporting development and growth of new leaders.

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Apr 30 2014

How to Advance Minority Health? Change the Look of Health Care.

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to blog about improving health care for all. Rashawn Ray, PhD, is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and a former RWJF Health Policy Research Scholar at the University of California in Berkeley and San Francisco.


Some people assume that promoting diversity and combating health disparities means giving preferential treatment to minorities over Whites. However, these pursuits simply mean providing equitable opportunities and a health care system that is responsive to everyone. Education studies continuously show that promoting diversity and reducing discrimination benefits all students. Regarding health care, these pursuits may mean life or death.

The percentage of Black physicians has stayed roughly unchanged since the early 1900s. The percentage of Black and Latino professors at research-intensive university shows a similar pattern. I suggest that reducing health disparities and changing our current culture of health is contingent on more effectively integrating minorities into health professions and research positions.

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Apr 30 2014

How to Address Disparities? Develop Local Leadership, Listen to Communities.

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to respond to questions about improving health care for all. In this post, Marni Kuyl, RN, MS, interim health and human services director in Washington County, Oregon, responds to the question, “What does the country need to do to address disparities and build a culture of health that includes all people?” Kuyl is an RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow.


When I was first asked to consider this question, I pondered the issues by describing theoretical approaches, including the need to address social determinants, use a social-ecologic framework, and take a life course perspective. I threw in the need to use evidence-based practices and research. I gave this first draft to someone and asked ... So what do you think? She very politely asked: Are you in outer space? 

I continue to believe that addressing inequality in our country requires that we recognize, understand, and commit to changing its root causes which include racism, inadequate affordable and safe housing, inadequate access to quality education (pre-to post graduate), and grossly uneven wealth distribution. These are deeply rooted in our political and economic structures and must be fundamentally changed if we truly want to build a culture of equality and health for all. 

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