BALTIMORE, Md. — Nursing shortages continue to plague hospitals and doctor's offices nationwide. The field has historically also been lacking diversity but some nursing schools are working to change that.
Taylor Peterson is a senior at Coppin State University and is also the first person in her family to go into medicine. As a young Black woman, she also knows there's another trail she's blazing in her field.
"I can show them that you're able to do this as well, if you look like me or come from where I come from you can do this," Peterson said.
Nursing has historically not been an incredibly diverse profession. An estimated 69% of nurses are white. Black nurses make up only 11% of the profession, while Latinos account for about 8% of nurses. And 86% of all nurses are women.
"Male nurses are needed in the field," said Aidien Vitug, who is also a student at Coppin State University.
Vitug's mom was a nurse. He's hoping to balance the gender scales a bit while also continuing in his mother's footsteps.
"I want to continue the legacy, and I want to be like her," he added.
Coppin State University is a Historically Black College. Dr. Tracy Murray, who oversees the program, sees it as their mission to push for equality in the field overall.
"They'll go into units where they'll be the only person of color but they are more than qualified and are supposed to be there," Dr. Murray added.
Getting students in the door is one challenge, and ensuring students are able to pass licensure exams is another. This is why this university recently received grant money to implement new online learning assessment tools in order to help students better prepare for exams even as the curriculum changes.
"They can see faculty members as living examples of how hard it is to be a nurse of color, but it's possible, doable, and can be successful," Dr. Murray said.