Diversity & Equality in Health and Care Open Access

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An exploratory study into the recruitment of black and minority ethnic students to a sponsored NHS trust cancer nursing education programme

Dave Sookhoo, Elizabeth N Anionwu

This study was commissioned by a director of nursing concerned about under-representation of black and minority ethnic (BME) nurses on an NHS trust-sponsored cancer nursing course. A literature review, including publications related to cancer nurse workforce planning, unearthed little on the subject. Research was undertaken to find out the views of students concerning the recruitment and retention of both white and BMEnurses onto these courses. Questionnaires were sent to two cohorts of students (n = 80), and 36 (45%) students responded, 30 (37.5%) returning completed questionnaires. The findings demonstrated that the majority either did not perceive, or were not sure that there were any differences between recruitment and retention of white and BMEnurse s into cancer care. Key barriers cited were identified as those relevant to general nursing shortages within the NHS. They included poor pay, not being valued, and emotional stress related to caring for terminally ill patients. Factors cited with respect to BMEnurses included language problems, cultural influences, stigma and possible racism. The degree of dissonance between the views of the students and the director of nursing is of interest, as is the dearth of papers on this topic within the nursing literature. It may indicate a possible lack of awareness among the cancer nursing profession about whether BMEnurs es are under-represented within this specialty. This is in contrast to the prominence this topic has acquired amongst other sections of nursing. The issue of BMErep resentation requires addressing by those involved in cancer nursing workforce planning and recruitment strategies. It is recommended that those involved in cancer nursing workforce planning review the issue of the representation of BME nurses within the specialty.