Building a workforce that reflects the children we serve is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do.
Patients and families want to be cared for by people who are skilled and compassionate, but an understanding of the culture from which the child comes is also vital. Caregivers who share the cultural background of their patients may be able to communicate more effectively with them and establish bonds of trust.
Recruiting the best
Recruiting caregivers who represent different cultures and ethnicities is challenging, as they are not well represented in some areas of Boston's health care labor pool. However, Boston Children's Hospital has had many recent successes.
For example, 27 percent of Children's research and clinical fellows. In addition, clinical and research fellows come from 76 countries to train and practice at Children's - 63% of all fellows are from outside of the U.S., and the Office of Fellowship Training at the Hospital has sponsored English as a Second Language training for postdoctoral research fellows for the past five years. Fellows are given an opportunity for public speaking experience, and receiving mentorship, by volunteering to lead a journal club or clinical discussion session, chairing the fellow-run Career Progression and Life Planning series (formerly Career-Family Balance series), or giving a practice job talk, with faculty critique, in preparation for job interviews after their fellowship training.
Children's is also committed to building a respectful work environment where all people feel valued. For instance, we have provided health insurance to same-sex partners for many years and offer adoption assistance to all employees.
In an effort to fully understand the makeup of our workforce and ensure that it reflects our patient population, Children's tracks employees' ethnicities and looks for areas to improve. In 2006, we conducted a comprehensive employee survey, including, for the first time, measures of minority satisfaction in the workplace. The results were published in five languages.
A workplace of choice
- Involvement of Valerie Ward, MD, MPH; the Diversity and Cultural Competency Council (DCCC) Faculty Director and recipient of the 2008 CHB Black Achiever's Award
- Fellowships for underrepresented faculty in medicine and science (URM)
- Sponsorship of three URM faculty or fellows for The Partnership, Inc. leadership program, which provides year-long forums, mentoring and professional development to promote minority leaders in Boston
- URM networking and career events
- Diversity training for mentors as part of the joint Harvard Medical School affiliated hospitals' annual Mentorship Course and implementation of diversity guidelines in its Community of Mentors Program
- Participation in several Harvard Medical School physician pipeline initiatives that encourage high school and college students to pursue medical careers
- Collaboration with Harvard Medical School's (HMS) Office for Diversity and Community Partnership and with other HMS Affiliated Offices of Faculty Development and Diversity
- Representation at URM recruiting conferences, such as the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), the National Medical Association (NMA), and the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA)
- Active recruitment of faculty underrepresented in medicine and science is not enough. It is vital that we retain the URM physicians and scientists already on staff by being more responsive to their needs and instilling a more welcoming environment. To do this, Children's has adopted a number of best retention practices, including the Boston Combined Residency Program in Pediatrics Minority Physician Training Program, which uses mentoring, access to resources for minority faculty, and house staff dinners to build support and a sense of community. Children's also holds quarterly luncheons for minority faculty and fellows, Black History Observance and Latino Heritage Month events and an annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day observance.
Children's nurses, who are chosen from a select pool of applicants and then rigorously trained, provide state-of-the-art compassionate care to their young charges. Even though we have stepped up our minority recruitment efforts, there simply are not enough minority nurses available to fill the demand.
This has been accomplished, in part, by Children's participation in several pipeline programs to increase interest in nursing careers, including:
Nursing Career Lattice Program
The Nursing Career Lattice Program provides clinical assistants, administrative staff, and other racially and ethnically diverse hospital employees who want to purse a career in nursing with academic counseling, mentoring and financial support. In addition, participants in the Nursing Career Lattice program receive the following services:
- An individualized plan to support and guide each employee through the college experience.
- Access to Boston Children's Hospital nursing staff and faculty who will serve as role models and mentors.
- Financial assistance, if applicable, in the form of tuition vouchers and stipends to offset the costs associated with buying textbooks, nursing uniforms, and other equipment.
- Opportunities to connect with other members of the Nursing Career Lattice Program.
Program staff works with employees and area colleges/universities to identify the prerequisite courses and nursing programs that will enable each employee to successfully complete nursing school. We also work with nurses of color, who hold an associates degree in nursing, to further their education and secure a bachelors degree in nursing. The Nursing Career Lattice program will enable Boston Children's Hospital to create a strong multicultural nursing workforce that will provide the best family-centered care to our patients and our community.
Student opportunity outreach program
Through the Student Career Opportunity Outreach Program (SCOOP) we are committed to engaging a diverse population of students in order to spark their interest in the nursing profession. Last year we had a number of schools with diverse and minority populations visit our hospital for the SCOOP field trips, such as Madison Park and Boston International Schools. As part of our initiative, we are reaching out to all nurses from diverse backgrounds to participate in these panels so the students can see someone like themselves achieving success in the field of nursing and at CHB. During the years 2006 and 2007, over 800 students visited the hospital through 15 of our monthly campus visits. On average we had 8 nurses involved in each of the 11 campus visit.
This year we have established a close working relationship with Madison Park High School, where we are bringing students to experience nursing through shadowing activities in the units. In addition, our nurses have become involved with the Advisory Board for the Health Careers program at the school. All of these activities bring our nurses to the community, inspiring young people from diverse backgrounds and encouraging them to change the face of the nursing profession.
Through our SCOOP internship program we have selected outstanding young individuals to work in our hospital and experience health professions up close and personal. This year we selected one exceptional student from the Health Careers Academy who is now working with us as he continues his journey into the health professions. With his bright smile and easy disposition, Rasool Adkins has become an important member of our team. We are looking forward to having him with us through the rest of the year and we are eager to see him become a member of
our multi-disciplinary team in the future!
Multicultural nursing outreach forum
During the fall of 2007, our Chief Nurse Executive, Eileen Sporing, made a request to meet with minority and ethnically diverse nurses in our hospital in order to have a conversation about the current status of diversity in the Nursing Department. In the process of organizing this meeting, the nurses determined that there is a need for minority and culturally diverse nurses to come together to work on issues such as: recruitment and retention of diverse nurses, educating our colleagues about cultural competent care issues, and making our work environment a respectful place for people of all backgrounds and cultures.
It is with this idea that the Multicultural Nurses Forum was created at Boston Children's Hospital in November of 2007. As the work of this group continues to expand, we look forward to having a strong network of diverse nurses who will make great contributions to the care we provide to patients at Boston Children's Hospital.
Minority nurses organization
Our hospital is committed to organizations that support diversity in the nursing profession. In 2007, four Boston Children's Hospital nurses were awarded the Nurse of the Year award by the New England Black Nurses Association (NERBNA).
Our hospital continues to be involved in supporting the nurses who are members of this organization through the local chapter activities. In addition to NERBNA, our hospital has been involved in supporting the work of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) by sponsoring events at the national annual conference and by hosting local chapter
meetings in the Boston area.