College of Nursing Professor to Address Cultural Health Care Needs in Yakima Valley

SPOKANE, Wash. — Bronwynne Evans, Intercollegiate College of Nursing/WSU College of Nursing professor, has received a three-year $474,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to fund ALCANCE, a project to increase the number of Native American and Hispanic nurses serving in the Yakima Valley.

The Yakima Valley is home to thousands of non-English speaking individuals who are unable to access health care based on their special language and cultural needs.

The project will begin educating middle school children about a nursing career. It also will work with the Hispanic Academic Achievement Program to identify, encourage and mentor high school students interested in nursing. The project will provide volunteer experiences for mature high school students who have completed a class in interpreting for Spanish-speaking individuals at the Yakima Valley Farmworkers Clinic. Yearly $3,000 stipends of $3000 will be provided to students of color who complete their prerequisite classes and enter the College of Nursing.

Yakima County is a federally designated health professions shortage area, so even English-speaking staff are often unavailable. There is a critical need for increased nursing workforce diversity in this rural, underserved community.

Providing adequate health care to the current population would require 231 physicians and 770 registered nurses who know their clients’ language and culture. “Without these providers, patient diagnosis, treatment, compliance and satisfaction are compromised,” Evans said. “Hispanics and Native Americans who live, work and attend school in the Yakima Valley could, with adequate financial, social, cultural and educational support, become baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses.”

Aid Latino Community to Attain Nursing Career Employment (ALCANCE) means “reach” in Spanish and will supply financial, academic and social services to interested students through scholarships, mentoring and educational offerings.

“This program creates an educational pipeline for local Native American and Hispanic students from disadvantaged backgrounds interested in the nursing profession and culminates with graduation from the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/WSU College of Nursing,” Evans said.

Established in 1968, the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/WSU College of Nursing is the nation’s first, oldest and most comprehensive nursing education consortium. The College of Nursing offers baccalaureate, graduate and professional development course work to nursing students enrolled through its four consortium partners, Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, Washington State University and Whitworth College. Each year, the college educates more than 550 graduate and upper-division undergraduate students and prepares more entry-level nurses than any other educational institution in the state.