- Creating a culture that values diversity and incorporates this value into strategic planning and decision-making at all levels and in all areas
- Increasing diversity within professional roles and leadership
- Providing career counseling and financial assistance for individuals in support roles who have hopes for the future
- Addressing the underemployment of foreign-born professionals who are unable to pursue careers until licensure exams are taken
- Educating staff to provide them with skills to resolve conflict stemming from cultural differences, gain factual information about people from different cultures, physically disabled, religious differences and sexual orientation
- Changing behaviors and attitudes that interfere with team spirit.
Components of the Program
The N&PCS Diversity Program is far-reaching and comprehensive, with various initiatives, educational offerings and cultural events designed to build a diversity-centric, hospital community.
In 1995, N&PCS leadership took an unprecedented step, creating a director of N&PCS Diversity position and launching a formal Diversity Program. “Embracing Diversity” became one of six key points in the N&PCS strategic plan. In 1997, N&PCS launched a novel Collaborative Governance decision-making structure featuring a multidisciplinary Diversity Steering Committee to develop strategies to diversify the N&PCS workforce and enhance care to a diverse patient population.
Sample initiatives include:
- Culturally-Competent Care curriculum: developed an eight-hour, interactive educational program currently well known and accessed by those outside MGH
- Cultural Rounds: unit-level education using case presentations, job shadow and/or chart review, processing care-related problems and identifying solutions through peer review
- African American Pinning Ceremony: annual Black History Month event celebrating the contributions of African-American employees in creating a positive and open organizational culture—a powerful time of sharing and healing
- Annual Multicultural Holiday Celebration: educational displays and demonstrations honoring cultures reflecting the global and local communities
- Cultural Heritage Events: these combine education with entertainment to interest and involve a wide audience (e.g., services during important Muslim holidays are conducted in both Arabic and English)
- Community outreach: language and lack of vital health information present enormous barriers during emergencies. The Diversity Committee created a “Basic Medical Card” to help people new to the US and Boston navigate the healthcare system. The US State Department adopted the idea in 2005 and began distributing the cards to all newly-arrived refugees throughout the US
- Mentoring Programs: created multiple mentoring initiatives, including the Multicultural Nurses Program, which is designed to support nurses educated in another country, who are now employed at Mass General in an assistive role, to pass US nursing board exams
- Scholarship: created many scholarship opportunities for minority employees. (e.g., the Hausman Student Nurse Fellowship offers recipients the opportunity to work with minority mentors, while developing essential skill sets required in a demanding workplace)
- Advancing care: N&PCS led a Mass General effort to participate in The Healthcare Equality Index (HEI)—a joint project of the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association—a first-of-its-kind glimpse at the current state of the hospital industry and its relationship with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people
The impact of the N&PCS Diversity program is evident at all levels service-wide:
- More than tripled the number of minority nurses on staff since 1996.
- Approximately 85% of N & PCS clinicians are nurses. Between 1996 and 2006, while the nursing staff grew by 81%, the minority nursing staff increased by 207%.
- Members of the N & PCS Executive Team influenced the hiring of minority leadership: nurse managers, clinical educators, directors of clinical and administrative programs.
- Nearly half of Mass General's Support Service Employee Grants for 2007-08 are for nursing school attendees, a marked increase over time.
- A curriculum created for managers helps enhance their skill sets for leading a multicultural, multiethnic workforce that must work as a team despite differences in language and customs.
- N&PCS led, staffed and created pipeline programs with local nursing schools that were then offered throughout Mass General and Partners HealthCare, including the Clinical Leadership Collaborative for Diversity in Nursing with UMASS, Boston College School of Nursing and Health Sciences Partnership. Participants receive tuition support, mentorship and access to leadership development initiatives in return for working at Mass General or other Partners institutions following graduation
Building consensus from dissimilar voices, viewpoints and lived experiences represents the crux of the work of N&PCS Diversity. As diversity becomes more and more embedded in the N&PCS culture, the program's success is further evidenced by diversity-focused efforts that extend well beyond the formal charge or scope of the N&PCS Diversity Program itself.
For example, the N & PCS director of Diversity serves as the principal hospital-wide and health system-wide resource on diversity-related matters—collaborating with administration and middle management regarding quality of work-life issues. This influence is evidenced in conflict negotiation, various focused and widespread communications, advocacy, mentoring, ethics consultations, the development of issues-oriented educational programs and community outreach.
In another example, several N&PCS leadership and staff members helped create and continue to serve on the Mass General Council on Disabilities Awareness (CDA). Co-chaired by a N&PCS executive, the CDA mission is “to move beyond compliance to ensure an accessible and welcoming environment for all.”
This N&PCS-led group has launched several initiatives to increase awareness, understanding and available resources for disabilities-related matters, including: hosting symposiums, lectures and site visits to identify and share best practices; creating internships with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind to help individuals with sight disabilities enter the workforce; creating a multi-media, interactive accessibility web portal, specifically designed to help people with disabilities plan their visits to Mass General; helping to create the Mass General Disabilities Access Center, to offer people with disabilities ready access to an array or adaptive devices and resources; and organizing the hospital’s first Disabilities Awareness Day to showcase the various resources for patients, families, visitors and employees living with disabilities.
Likewise, N&PCS provides vital medical interpretation services throughout the hospital in more than 75 different languages, 24/7—a daunting challenge. Medical Interpretation has strategically expanded and enhanced its services: tripling its staff in the past 10 years; hiring a full-time American Sign Language interpreter; first Boston Hospital to install a public Videophone for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals; designing, piloting and introducing a device—Interpreter Phones on a Pole (IPOP)—that ensures immediate interpretation services at the bedside 24 hours a day; and piloting a mobile, video interpretation device for bedside use.
In a systematic and strategic manner, Mass General's Nursing & Patient Care Services Diversity Program has successfully embedded diversity into its cultural DNA.