Nurture in their nature
The Southern Nevada Black Nurses Association celebrates 20 years of solidarity in service.
Founded in 1995 by community leader Debra Toney, the Southern Nevada Black Nurses Association (SNBNA) is an advocacy organization that proudly stands by its motto, “Black nurses nurturing the community.”
Celebrating its 20th anniversary of serving Southern Nevada, SNBNA President Rowena Trim describes the group’s objectives: “The primary focus of SNBNA is to provide a place for nurses of color to come together and receive support, encouragement and scholarships for nursing and training. We provide a community presence to support residents of Nevada who are underserved and underrepresented.”
Twenty-four members strong, the SNBNA functions as a regional representative of the National Black Nurses Association. One of their top issues: a local shortage of black nurses that Trim says is extreme.
“Absolutely, there is a shortage of black nurses in Nevada,” she said. “And there are two reasons for this: The first is accessibility to various nursing schools in the state. For example, in California there is a two- and three-year waiting list to get accepted into schools of nursing. And where I teach, at Roseman School of Nursing in Henderson, aspiring nurses from other states come to Las Vegas to try to get into the private and public schools of nursing. This results in not having enough schools of nursing to accommodate students and faculty — making it harder to get accepted.
She added: “Many aspiring nursing students consider going into other healthcare positions because of enrollee back-up, instead of waiting to become accepted into one of the schools. Years ago, [many] African-American women in Nevada were either nurses or teachers. Now, there are so many other options for women. The second reason that there is a shortage of black nurses in Nevada is directly related to socioeconomic issues — many people can’t afford the cost.”
The first big nursing shortage in Nevada was in the 1980s, and it was a phenomenon felt around the country. During that time many hospitals in Nevada recruited nurses from the Philippines, which was known for having a very good medical system and training program.
“Many of the Filipinos who came to Nevada were paid $10,000 per contract to work in the state,” Trim said. “I was teaching at Howard University at the time, and one of the neurosurgeons told me, ‘We have to get them where we can get them.’ Our organization is passionate about recruiting new nurses, and providing scholarships to meet their educational financial needs.”