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Racial disparities in nursing

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The under-representation of minorities in nursing is a well-known fact. But some disturbing research suggests that minority nurses make less money than white nurses as well.

New York researchers analyzed the results of a 2007 survey of 3000 NYC nurses and found that minority nurses, on average, earned $6000 less per year than white nurses with similar education and experiences. About half of the difference, the researchers concluded, was due to minority nurses’ tendency to work within their own communities, at community health centers and public hospitals,which typically pay less than private institutions in other parts of town. However, the data also appeared to suggest that employers under-valued the contributions of African-American, Asian and Hispanic nurses.

While the researchers found racial differences in pay even within public and unionized hospitals, they caution against taking the results too seriously.  The initial study, for instance, did not include overtime pay. More studies are planned in the future.

Do you think minority nurses’ contributions are under-valued?


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Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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