Founded in 1975, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) filled a gap in the country’s medical community by offering a resource for nurses of Hispanic descent.
Through the organization, Hispanic nurses found the means to collaborate with one another, identify barriers to health care in the Hispanic community in the U.S., advocate for Hispanic-related health care policies, and promote the recruitment of Hispanic students into nursing programs.
Now, NAHN continues to provide those valuable services along with many others, including scholarships to Hispanic nursing students who demonstrate promise of professional contributions to the nursing profession and who have the potential to act as role models for others entering the field.
“NAHN’s mission is two-fold,” Celia Trigo Besore, Executive Director and CEO of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, told Saludify. “As a professional nursing society, NAHN exists to promote and increase the educational opportunities, the professionalism and the leadership opportunities of our nurses. NAHN’s second mission is to improve the health condition of the Hispanic Community.”
Besore adds there is a great need for more nurses in the U.S. overall. While Hispanics make up 16.7 percent of the nation’s population according to the most recent Census, only about 4 percent of Registered Nurses (RN) are Hispanics.
“When you pair the need of additional nurses with [these] statistics, as well as the expected growth of Hispanics as a percentage of the U.S. population, it is clear that there is a great need of nurses who are able to deliver culturally-sensitive health care,” she said.
Hispanic nurses and culturally relevant care
The nursing shortage is especially critical for Hispanics, a group that feels the lack of culturally relevant care in almost all avenues of medicine.
According to The American Medical Association Physician Masterfile and U.S Census data, Hispanics are not only underrepresented in the nursing profession, but only make up 5 percent of physicians. Not only are fewer Hispanics pursuing medical careers, but as a whole the Hispanic population is classified as underserved, meaning there are typically more than 2,000 people per doctor in Hispanic communities.
These health care disparities are part of the reason NAHN strives to recruit Hispanic students into the nursing profession while also providing those already on the career path a way to stay culturally connected.
Hispanic nurses who become members of NAHN gain access to the many benefits of the organization including:
- Networking with other Hispanic medical professionals
- Continuing education opportunities
- Reduced medical conference fees
- Subscriptions to quarterly journals and newsletters
- Opportunities to be involved with health care policies on the local and national level
- Scholarship opportunities
- A support network of individuals in the same field and from the same cultural background
While NAHN has been around for decades, the organization continues to focus on the importance of increasing the number of Hispanic nurses in the United States, and Besore offers the following advice to aspiring Hispanic nurses:
“Nursing is a wonderful profession,” she told Saludify. “Not only does it provide you with a good and much needed career, but you will be directly helping people lead better lives. Don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dream. We invite you to join NAHN when you start your nursing career since ‘en la unión, está la fuerza.’ (‘There is strength in numbers.’)”