“Empathy is the cornerstone of nursing practice,” says Erica Morse Caron, staff developer at Eastern Maine Medical Center. But with so many applicants to review, it can be easy to rely on GPA and test scores over interpersonal indicators that are harder to read. Caron encourages nursing colleges to take emotional intelligence into account. While this practice alone doesn’t create diversity, it is a step towards expanding the criteria beyond those that traditionally benefit white applicants.
Dan Willis, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing, says his school is actively taking a broader approach to admissions. “We have continued to evolve holistic admissions as part of our practice.” One of the ways that has manifested is through a new program designed to recruit, retain, and graduate more Native American Nurses into the workforce. The program is called Success Through Recruitment/Retention Engagement and Mentorship (STREAM). Dr. Willis explains, “It strives for student achievement by addressing the social determinants of educational success, which includes academics, finances, and psycho-social support. We have regular talking circles where students can check in with each other, as well as tailored programs that include a variety of support.”