As a freshman nursing student, Chau Le'12 worked at Walmart five days a week and hit the books until 1 a.m.
“I just died from exhaustion,” says Le, who was born in Vietnam and grew up in Lowell.
Today, she is a Registered Nurse at Lowell Community Health Center and is back at UMass Lowell pursuing a master’s degree in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nursing to become a Nurse Practitioner.
While a student, she received support from the Bring Diversity to Nursing program, a state and federally funded initiative that recruits, retains and graduates students of diverse backgrounds to become professional nurse leaders in the greater Lowell and Lawrence regions. Experts say that nurses who are able to effectively interact with patients across cultures and ethnic backgrounds deliver the best care to patients by alleviating fears about treatment.
“I am very thankful that the Bring Diversity to Nursing program supported me emotionally and financially so that I could concentrate on my academics and work in the community,” says Le.
Many of the 50 nursing students from a variety of cultural backgrounds who have graduated from BDN are working in local hospitals and clinics. Current students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered for a reunion on campus recently to celebrate the success of the Bring Diversity to Nursing program.
The BDN program funding is running out this year. In the face of these cuts, the university will support the goals of the program through establishment of the Bring Diversity to Nursing Endowment Fund.
“The School of Nursing is committed to addressing the imbalance between the minority population in need of healthcare and the limited availability of minority baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses,” says Prof. of Nursing Jacqueline Dowling.
Students enrolled in the Bring Diversity to Nursing program receive scholarships, stipends, technology, tutoring, mentoring and leadership opportunities – all designed to help them graduate and work in local communities.
“Since I speak Vietnamese, I am able to communicate patient needs to providers at Lowell Community Health Center,” says Le. “Interpreters are not always available and not knowing different languages can lead to inadequate medical care.”
The BDN program has been funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Health Professions, Division of Nursing, Nursing Workforce Diversity; and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
If you would like to make a donation to the BDN Endowment Fund, visit the website and click on “other fund name” and select “Bring Diversity to Nursing.”