Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Carroll University program seeks to diversify nursing field, improve healthcare experiences

New program recruits Hispanic individuals in Milwaukee to enter nursing field, reducing disparities
Daniel Yun

Carroll University in Waukesha recently created a new Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program designed to encourage more Hispanic, bilingual students to become nurses. The program is not on Carroll’s main campus in Waukesha, but in the Walker’s Point neighborhood near the South Side of Milwaukee with a large hispanic population.

The two-year program prepares students to take the NCLEX-RN exam, an exam students need to pass in order to be licensed as a Registered Nurse. Then, interested students can work as an RN while pursuing their BSN and hopefully getting their employer to pick up some of the educational costs.

The new program comes as a welcome way to recruit nurses amidst the critical, almost dire nursing shortage and lack of diversity in nursing in Wisconsin. About 8% of the population in Wisconsin identifies as Hispanic but only 2% of the nursing workforce does, leading to a gap in representation. Having healthcare providers that look like the patients they’re caring for, are similar culturally, and speak the same language is important as that can, in general, lead to better health outcomes.


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This program designed for bilingual, Hispanic students can help contribute to reducing nursing shortages, increase the quality of care for patients who don’t speak a high level of English and increase diversity in the nursing field. A similar program should be implemented here in Madison. 

Organizations across the country have communicated the need for diversity in nursing and are implementing initiatives that focus on recruiting and retaining underrepresented groups. The Madison area is short 3,500 healthcare workers and the shortage expands to 8,000 when looking at the entire state of Wisconsin. That coupled with the underrepresentation of minority workers in healthcare means Wisconsin is a great place for more programs like Carroll’s. 

It’s not just enough for these programs to exist, however. These programs need to focus on recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority groups through academic support, financial support, mentorship, faculty support and aid prior to and during the program progression. Programs also need to understand what barriers are in the way of successful entry to the program and what difficulties cause students to drop out. 

Language barriers in healthcare reduce care satisfaction for patients and providers alike. Interpreter services are often provided as needed for patients in healthcare facilities, and UW Health offers the service free of charge. But using interpreter services can increase the cost and length of care as well as lead to information potentially getting lost in translation.

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Nurses provide essential information to patients throughout a patient’s entire stay or interaction at or with a healthcare facility. Bilingual nurses can help provide a higher level of care for patients who don’t speak English to ensure essential information is being communicated accurately. 

Moving forward, the nursing profession will increasingly be challenged to recruit and retain a culturally diverse workforce. Marginalized racial groups and low-income populations continue to experience lower healthcare quality and access compared to other groups. Employing culturally competent, diverse, and bilingual healthcare professionals could aid in improving healthcare equity and outcomes. 

Associate degree nursing programs, like the one at Carroll, have been around for around 70 years. These ADN programs draw in more minority groups and males than other nursing education programs. Introducing more ADN programs could help close the representation gap for healthcare professionals while preparing more people for nursing careers. 

Milwaukee and Dane counties have the two highest populations of Hispanic people in Wisconsin, making both of them good places for bilingual nursing programs. Additionally, English and Spanish are the two most commonly spoken languages in Wisconsin. This further establishes the need for more bilingual nurses in Wisconsin and more specifically, Milwaukee and Dane counties. 

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In an effort to address the community’s need for nursing support, recruitment, and training, Unity Point Health-Meriter is building a $6.9 million training facility in Madison. Included in this effort is a new program where students begin by earning their Certified Nursing Assistant license and then go on to get their ADN and eventually BSN — all while UW Health employs them and pays for their educational costs. 

While an ADN program designed for bilingual, Hispanic students would be new to Madison, it would not be the first bilingual focused healthcare preparation program in Madison. Madison College already has a Healthcare Interpreter program designed for Spanish- and English-speaking students to prepare them for the healthcare interpreter field. This program could be combined with or integrated into nursing programs to create a program that mirrors Carroll’s here in Madison. 

Carroll’s first cohort from this new program will graduate next year. Before that time, Meriter, UW Health and Madison College should collaborate to combine existing nursing programs and facilities.

Ultimately, recruiting and preparing diverse, bilingual nurses to close the representation gap in nursing will help reduce the nursing shortage and provide a higher level of care for patients in Dane County.

Suzy Dawood ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in business analytics.

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