Al Jazeera

MADISON, WI –

UW-Madison School of Nursing faculty members have received a $1.3 million federal grant to aid in the creation of support services that will help admit and graduate 30 Native American nursing students over the next four years. 

“Success Through Recruitment/Retention, Engagement, and Mentorship for American Indian Students Pursuing Nursing Careers”—a new program aided by the funding and led by Audrey Tluczek, an associate professor of nursing, and Mel Freitag, the school’s director of diversity initiatives— is a major step in the Wisconsin Center for Nursing’s goal of expanding the diversity of the nursing workforce in response to the constantly diversifying population the center serves, according to a university news release.

The Wisconsin nursing workforce is made up of 94% white people in a state that is 79% white. Additionally, 90 percent of nurses who provide services in Wisconsin tribal health facilities are white. According to the release, the goal of the new program “is based on evidence showing that increasing diversity in the nursing workforce improves access to health care and leads to better health outcomes for underrepresented groups,” in this case, Native Americans.

The STREAM project allows the UW-Madison School of Nursing to work with organizations, such as the Native American Center for Health Professional, to identify and address the needs of Native American nursing students at the university.

“STREAM will use traditional American Indian talking circles to provide student peer support,” according to the news release. “The program will also work to foster confidence by connecting American Indian students with mentors who are Native nurses currently practicing in Wisconsin.”

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

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