Does State Legislation Improve Nursing Workforce Diversity?

Jasmine Travers, Arlene Smaldone, Elizabeth Gross Cohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A health-care workforce representative of our nation’s diversity is a health and research priority. Although racial and ethnic minorities represent 37% of Americans, they comprise only 16% of the nursing workforce. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of state legislation on minority recruitment to nursing. Using data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and U.S. census, we compared minority enrollment in baccalaureate nursing programs of states (Texas, Virginia, Michigan, California, Florida, Connecticut, and Arkansas) before and 3 years after enacting legislation with geographically adjacent states without legislation. Data were analyzed using descriptive and chi-square statistics. Following legislation, Arkansas (13.8%–24.5%), California (3.3%–5.4%), and Michigan (8.0%–10.0%) significantly increased enrollment of Blacks, and Florida (11.8%–15.4%) and Texas (11.2%–13.9%) significantly increased enrollment of Hispanic baccalaureate nursing students. States that tied legislation to funding, encouragement, and reimbursement had larger enrollment gains and greater minority representation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalPolicy, Politics, and Nursing Practice
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • diversity
  • health disparities
  • minorities
  • nurse recruitment
  • nursing workforce
  • state legislation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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