Focus on Diversity: MCCN Attracts and Supports Students Reflecting Current Populations

Sophomore students Rubble Ejigu, Leslie Davis and Abena Sefa prepare for the Sophomore Pinning Celebration.

In a world with dramatically changing demographics, it’s important to have a healthcare workforce that reflects the population it treats. Similarly, it’s important for Mount Carmel College of Nursing to not only meet this need but also provide opportunities for all qualified potential students and nurture existing students to succeed in their future careers.

In order to cast the widest net for potential students, MCCN’s Admissions office ensures that they target visits to high schools that have the highest numbers of under-represented student populations.

“We try to make sure we cover as many bases we can, not just the suburban districts,” said Kim Campbell, MEd, director of admissions. “We target districts with urban populations such as Columbus, Franklin Heights, Toledo, Cleveland and Dayton to ensure we’re reaching as many under-represented student groups as possible. Right now we’re working with Columbus’ Fort Hayes campus because students with health-centered studies attend there,” she said.

In addition to school visits, the Admissions office also organizes open houses and special events for potential students at the College. On March 21, MCCN will present “Explore College Day,” which will give high school students the opportunity to learn more about nursing, nursing careers and college planning. Although the event is open to all students, a special emphasis is being placed on attracting under-represented high school student groups to attend.

Under-represented groups aren’t just identified by race or ethnicity. In a profession that is heavily female, male students also fall under this umbrella. The Admissions office created a special brochure that focuses on the experiences and achievements of MCCN male students.

“We wanted to demonstrate what our male students have been able to do. With a nursing degree, they even can go on to medical school or law school,” said Campbell.

Attracting qualified students is facing a future challenge as the total number of students attending colleges and universities statewide and across the country is declining. That means there will be greater competition for potential students.

Campbell says the College is still faring well in that regard. “As a single-purpose institution, we still have great numbers comparatively. We have a major people want because the demand for nurses is strong. We also feel very fortunate in face of the growing number of nursing education programs in this area,” she said

Getting students from a variety of backgrounds into MCCN is the first step. Once there, it is important to provide adequate support to ensure they have the tools to succeed and an environment that honors diverse backgrounds. Kathy Espy, BA, director of diversity and community initiatives, works to ensure just that.

“At the beginning of school year we have a dinner for students from other countries and students who speak English as a second language, where we have a frank discussion about life at Mount Carmel, where to turn for help with academics, getting involved with College organizations, resources and what to look forward to,” Espy said.

In addition, Espy sets up mentoring opportunities and periodic meetings with students from under-represented groups. “We want to ensure they’re getting the resources they need, identify any problems they’re having and offer support. We also want students in these groups to get to know one another and foster encouragement,” she said.

MCCN also partners with the diversity and inclusion efforts of Mount Carmel Health System (MCHS) through programs with faculty and staff that emphasize recognizing and respecting diversity and how to encourage learning with different cultural contexts. Partnering with MCHS also helps the College recruit diverse candidates for faculty and staff positions.

Special programs bring opportunities to honor milestones in diversity, create awareness and celebrate heritage. In January, Espy organized the College’s Martin Luther King Day celebration, which featured Sharon Davies, the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. For Black History Month this month, Espy is organizing a lunchtime presentation by Mary Oellerman from the Kelton House Museum and Garden, which was once a vital link on the Underground Railroad. There also are events in which students from different countries share aspects of their culture and foods from their countries.

Always striving for diversity is “ongoing, challenging and never ending, but with that comes recognizing and celebrating people’s differences,” Espy said.

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