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Mentoring Program Works to Attract More Young, Black Nurses

College of DuPage
A mentoring program in Connecticut aims to attract more young African Americans to nursing. Pictured is College of DuPage Nursing student Monashay Pertee.

A mentoring program in Northern Connecticut is working to get more African Americans interested in nursing.

Jessica Arter said there are a lot of reasons she'd like to see more African Americans become nurses. First, there are the state's demographics. "The population for African Americans is 11.2 percent. However, African American nurses only make up 3.5 percent," said Arter. "In addition to wanting to be a nurse and caring for people, we think they should match their counterparts as far as demographics."

Arter is a nurse from Hartford and a member of the Northern Connecticut Black Nurses Association. They're a collective of nurses working to decrease health disparities in the African American community. Sometimes that involves local partnerships.

"We have worked with My Sister's Place, for example, where we did a breast-cancer awareness event," Arter said. "Different community organizations -- sometimes we reach out to them, or they reach out to us with their needs -- and we develop a program that can sustain itself so we can do it for years to come."

Credit Northern Connecticut Black Nurses Association, Inc.
Northern Connecticut Black Nurses Association, Inc.
A recent program took high school and college students interested in nursing to a conference in Philadelphia.

As a practicing nurse, Arter also directs the group's mentoring and meeting program, which works to get students interested in nursing. Last month, they traveled to Philadelphia for a nursing conference designed to educate students and help them network. "It was great for them to see how much they can offer to nursing. And how much nursing can offer to them," said Arter.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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