Diversity in Nursing: Why It’s Important and How to Promote It

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Why is diversity in nursing important? Studies have shown that diversity in nursing improves patient outcomes, empowers the nursing workforce, encourages patient engagement and improves the financial performance of healthcare organizations. Nurses and facilities can promote cultural diversity in nursing through proactively inclusive policies and recruitment strategies that eliminate biases.

nurses and doctors review xrays

Diversity in nursing can be defined in several ways. Nurses can work across diverse workplace settings (from medical evacuation helicopters to children’s hospitals) and choose from various specialties (e.g., oncology, women’s health, and pain management). These can be attractive perks to someone considering making a career change to nursing.

Yet, the primary definition of diversity in nursing is the composition of nursing demographics. Indeed, cultural diversity in nursing is crucial for promoting inclusive workplaces, more favorable patient outcomes, and healthier communities.

What Is Diversity in Nursing?

Diversity in healthcare encompasses the nursing staff and patients as well as nurses’ cultural awareness and competence. It includes but is not limited to diversity in:

  • Race and ethnicity
  • Age
  • Gender and sexual orientation
  • Family structure
  • National origin and immigration/refugee status
  • Language
  • Religious beliefs
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Physical, functional, and learning abilities

These factors can influence a patient’s health-seeking behaviors and health-related decision-making processes. Similarly, nurses should consider each patient’s attributes and background to incorporate respect and appreciation of their diverse patients’ needs when making healthcare recommendations and decisions and delivering patient education.

nursing student standing in hallway

Nursing Demographics in the U.S.

Representation is important, both for nurses and their patients. Current nursing demographics in the U.S. indicate that the nursing profession could be more diverse. The results of the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey reveal the following data:


  • 88.5% female
  • 11.2% male
  • 0.3% non-binary/other


  • 80% white/Caucasian
  • 7.4% Asian
  • 6.3% Black/African American
  • 2.5% multiracial
  • 6.9% Hispanic/Latino

Why Is Diversity in Nursing Important?

The above statistics reveal that, although changes have been made in recent years, the diversity of the nursing population has a lot of room for improvement. So, why is diversity in nursing important? There are many reasons why healthcare employers, nursing schools, and other stakeholders should carefully consider how to promote diversity in nursing. Consider the following:

Diversity Empowers the Nursing Workforce

One way to empower nurses in the workplace is by proactively encouraging cultural competence. Another is to increase the diversity of the nursing workforce. When a nursing department is culturally diverse, nurses may enjoy a safer, more supportive environment and feel empowered to push back against adverse acts if they happen. Naturally, feeling safe and supported at work is crucial for performance.

Greater Diversity Improves Patient Outcomes

xavier absn student listening in stethoscope

Diversity in nursing doesn’t just improve the workplace for nurses; it also benefits patients directly. Indeed, studies have shown that a diverse nursing staff is better able to improve patient outcomes. Specifically, diversity can improve the quality of patient care and lead to more significant, better risk assessment and more robust team communications. Patients may prefer to be cared for by someone they can relate to, that has the same beliefs, speaks the same language, or has the same lived experiences.

Better Financial Performance for Healthcare Facilities

A third reason why diversity in nursing is essential concerns the healthcare facilities themselves. Multiple studies have found that their financial performance improves when healthcare facilities employ diverse teams of nurses. Although the quality of patient care is a top concern, the improvement in financial performance did not come at a cost to patient care — quite the contrary.

Encourages Community Engagement and Preventive Wellness

Nursing is a field in which trust is essential. Like psychologists and counselors, nurses must build a strong rapport with their patients, letting them know that clinicians can be trusted to respect their diverse backgrounds and beliefs. When patients see that the nursing workforce represents the broader community, they may be more likely to engage with preventive wellness services, such as health screenings and vaccination clinics.

Trust also helps patients establish open lines of communication with their providers. Patients need to feel that nurses are culturally competent and understand their unique attributes, as this encourages patients to be more open about their health issues and treatment preferences.

nurse holding patient's hand

The way you approach nursing matters. Here, you can learn about shaping your nursing career with a personal nursing philosophy.

How to Promote Diversity in Nursing

Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of every member of the nursing field to lead by example when promoting diversity and inclusion efforts. However, nurse leaders, facility managers, and nursing schools are responsible for promoting diversity. Entities and individuals can go about this in many ways.

Establishing a DEI Statement

All healthcare organizations should have a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statement or policy that affirms the organization’s commitment to maintaining a diverse, safe, and supportive environment for all employees.

All organizations must establish proactive policies and procedures to protect nurses and other employees from discrimination and harassment. Furthermore, healthcare organizations and nursing schools should implement cultural competence training that gives nurses the tools to respect and fulfill their patients’ diverse cultural needs.

three nurses in hallway

Recruiting From Diverse Populations

Cultural diversity in nursing teams starts with recruitment efforts. Individuals involved in hiring should ensure that recruitment ads, policies, and procedures eliminate biases and use inclusive language and strategies.

Leading by Example to Counteract Bias

All nurse leaders should strive to set a positive example that seeks to eliminate biases, discriminatory language, and actions. Nurse leaders should actively solicit feedback and discuss others’ experiences when considering changes to the workplace. Nurse leaders need to treat every member of their team equally.

Diversity in Nursing Starts in Education

It’s necessary to encourage diversity in nursing schools to shape a more diverse nursing workforce. Indeed, nursing schools should encourage diverse applicants to apply and implement curricular changes that actively strive to graduate culturally competent nurses.

At Xavier University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, our curriculum includes a Health, Culture and Diversity course to build cultural competencies. Furthermore, our nursing school encourages diverse nurse candidates to apply to our 16-month ABSN program, with the ability to choose from three enrollment locations in Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.

Ready to get started? Learn step-by-step how to get into an accelerated nursing program here.

nursing student in front of Xavier wall smiling at camera

Experience Diversity in Healthcare at Xavier

Xavier is committed to furthering cultural diversity in nursing education at our school and graduating future nurses who understand and support the many differences among their diverse patient populations. With three enrollment locations in Ohio and three start dates per year, you can start working toward becoming a nurse right away.

Contact Xavier today and speak with an admission counselor to discover if our 16-month ABSN program fits your career goals.