The demographics are changing in patient populations. The Affordable Care Act has resulted in increased access to healthcare for many in the United States who may not have had insurance. The result is a growing number of patients of different cultures and religious beliefs, and of varied ethnic heritage, all with specific needs. By striving for increased cultural awareness and greater workforce diversity, the field of nursing is responding to these shifts to provide competent care to all patients.

The lack of diversity among healthcare providers has resulted in some minority groups receiving inadequate care or forgoing treatment altogether. It can be overwhelming and frightening to be ill and have no one to understand your needs or explain what is happening. It can also be challenging for the nurse who is unable to communicate well with the patient or understand the patient’s needs. When there is a breakdown in communication, it is frustrating for the patient who may end up feeling confused and dissatisfied with their care.

Diversity Can Impact Patient Outcomes and Patient Satisfaction

Most nursing schools recognize the need to increase cultural awareness, and those acquiring their Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree often receive education about caring for diverse patient needs within the curriculum. The need for a more diverse nursing workforce has been recognized by The Joint Commission (TJC), the nation’s largest hospital accreditation organization. TJC has been encouraging hospitals to create policies that demonstrate their ability to care for diverse populations.

There has been an increase in men and minority groups pursuing nursing. The stable career opportunities available in the nursing field may be one reason for the increased diversity in nursing, but a more diverse overall population is a contributor, too.

Diversity among healthcare staff might help to improve patient outcomes. This can result in a better awareness of patient needs, an understanding of their culture, and collaboration on effective care. Patient satisfaction usually increases when nurses are able to communicate more effectively with them.

How Can Creating a Diverse Nursing Workforce Help?

More patients have been seeking care for increasingly complex needs. Because communication is essential to providing quality patient care and ensuring patient safety, caring for these patients can be overwhelming if the ability to communicate is hampered. If the nurse cannot recognize the patient’s needs, the quality of care can suffer.

Creating a more diverse nursing workforce can help increase understanding and awareness of individual patient needs. Diversity among nurses can help them do the following:

  • Become more culturally sensitive to patient needs.
  • Increase patient trust and confidence in their care.
  • More thoroughly assess the healthcare needs of different minority groups.
  • Advocate better for patients with an understanding of culture, customs, food, and religious views.

Can Understanding Diversity Help Patients?

Many patients find it reassuring to have a nurse who can relate to their culture and ethnicity. If the nurse is able to understand their values and honor their beliefs while meeting their treatment needs, their trust in the nurse’s care increases.

A nurse with a deeper understanding of the patient’s culture and beliefs can offer different methods of education. Individualizing care and treatment to the patient’s unique needs, and not adhering to always doing things a certain way, can help increase patient compliance.

Caring for a Diverse Population

The growing diversity in the patient population means a corresponding shift in healthcare needs. The field of nursing has responded by taking steps to become more culturally sensitive and provide education on the differences in patient needs. This knowledge can help nurses give compassionate care while meeting the specific needs of all patients.

Learn more about Nevada State College’s online RN to BSN program.


Cleveland Clinic: Growing and Developing a More Diverse Nursing Workforce Why is Diversity in Nursing so Important?

American Nurses Association: Diversity among Registered Nurses: Slow but Steady Progress

Campaign for Action: Increasing Diversity in Nursing

One Size Does Not Fit All: Meeting the Health Care Needs of Diverse Populations

SmartBrief: Rethinking How We Define and Track Workforce Diversity