Improving diversity in nursing with student scholarships

Left to right: Misty Price, Yvonne Sims (Scholarship Chair of LRBNAA), Bahiyyah Dawan, Cheryl Martin (LRBNAA president)

By Keneshia Bryant, PhD, RN, FNP-BC

Assistant Professor
College of Nursing
UAMS Translational Research Institute KL2 Scholar

A UAMS nursing student for the second year in a row is a recipient of a scholarship awarded each fall by the Little Rock Black Nurses Association of Arkansas (LRBNAA) to students who exhibit academic excellence, leadership, and commitment to the community and nursing.

The mission of the Little Rock Black Nurses Association of Arkansas (LRBNAA) is to decrease health disparities, improve the quality of life and health within the local community, and to diversify the nursing workforce. LRBNAA was founded in 1980 and is a local chapter of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA).

Bahnyyah Dawan, a UAMS senior, and Misty Price, who attends Baptist School of Nursing, are the 2011 recipients of the Jacquelyn Jones-Gibson scholarship, which is in honor of one of the founding members of LRBNAA. They received the awards at the LRBNAA scholarship tea on Sept. 24.

Dawan’s career goal is to become a nurse midwife in order to improve the quality of care and health outcomes of women within the United States and abroad. Price is “passionate about making a difference and helping others in need,” and regards nursing as her “calling,” according to those who know her.

LaToya Lewis, who presented the award to Dawan, was a LRBNAA scholarship recipient in 2010. A UAMS senior this year, Lewis is involved in various health-related community activities, enjoys learning about other cultures, and looks forward to pursuing a master’s degree in nursing with a concentration in education.  

Dawan, Price, Lewis, and others with the same drive and dedication will contribute to better health and health care in our communities and serve as role models for those who aspire to become nurses.

Research has shown that racial and ethnic minority nurses are more likely to be employed in inner city and lower income areas, where they are desperately needed to address health disparities.

Nationwide there is an on-going nursing shortage, and minorities remain under-represented. In 2004, non-Hispanic Blacks/African Americans represented 12.2% of the general population, but only 4.2% of U.S. nurses, according to a survey by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).