Howard University and New York University are joining forces for a health-related partnership that will support not only education, but research between the two institutions. In addition, the partnership will actively work to combat racial bias in nursing, with Howard being an HBCU and NYU being predominantly white. Get the full story from Nina Huang at Washington Square News below.

Courtesy of Howard University

NYU’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing, a predominantly white institution, has established an education and research partnership with Howard University’s College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, a historically Black college and university. The partnership aims to foster inter-university engagement between students and faculty in order to promote long-term health equity and combat systemic racism in healthcare and healthcare careers. 

A 2017 survey conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing revealed that people from minority backgrounds constitute 19.2% of the registered nurse workforce while constituting nearly 30% of the U.S. population. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing acknowledged the need to increase diversity in the medical field in light of these numbers.

Discrimination and racism harms nurses from all minority backgrounds, but Black nurses have been disproportionately affected. Although the 2017 NCSBN survey found that while racial minorities on the whole were underrepresented in the nursing field, the difference was starkest for Black nurses. Asian American nurses, for example, were overrepresented at 7.5% of nurses but 15% of the U.S. population. Despite the U.S. population being 13.3% Black, however, only 6.2% of nurses were Black.

Nursing and medical schools have for a long time recognized the systemically racist barriers to healthcare access and healthcare careers, according to Rory Meyers Dean Eileen Sullivan-Marx. The partnership between NYU and Howard University will work to address such issues in the health sciences and professions, Sullivan-Marx told WSN.

“One of the many kinds of tactics and thoughts we have had to address those issues has been partnerships with historic black colleges and universities,” Sullivan-Marx said.

Gina S. Brown, dean of Howard University’s College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, agreed with Sullivan-Marx and added that enhancing equity and improving training for nurses will improve patient outcomes in the future.

“We are really looking at equity in terms of research, in terms of matching faculty members together, in terms of us both looking at NYU Meyers from a PWI component and Howard from an HBCU component,” Brown said. “We both are looking at the wellbeing of all patients, regardless of their background — looking at the systemic racism and how that relates to the absence of disease and infirmary … to try to figure out how to make better nurses on both ends who can help everybody regardless of their background.”

Audrey Lyndon, the assistant dean for clinical research at Rory Meyers, helped facilitate the partnership. While at the University of California at San Francisco, Lyndon worked with Brown to establish a collaborative relationship between Howard and UCSF. When Lyndon started working at NYU, she asked Brown if she was interested in a partnership between NYU and Howard. 

According to Lyndon, one of the ultimate goals of the partnership is to foster inclusivity in nursing and create positive work environments.

Courtesy of NYU

“People always talk about recruitment, but recruitment doesn’t matter if you can’t retain people because it’s not a positive work environment,” Lyndon said. “We really need to establish a very strong mechanism for creating an environment where people are … not shut out of opportunities because of what they look like or what their background is. That happens too much in nursing, and it must stop.”

Rory Meyers faculty have expressed support for the partnership.

“I think there’s been a pretty high level of excitement at the college since this was announced,” Lloyd Goldsamt, a senior research scientist at Rory Meyers, told WSN. “Any chance we have to collaborate across institutions is fantastic, and this seems like a great opportunity.”

One of the partnership’s first initiatives is writing accountability groups, which will encourage collaborative research proposals and papers between students. Howard students can also participate in a 10-week summer research program at NYU designed to engage students from underrepresented backgrounds in research training and career mentorship.

“Not only can the Howard and Meyers undergraduate nursing students learn about research, but they can also learn it together and hear one another’s perspectives at the very beginning of a research career,” Sullivan-Marx said.

According to Goldsamt, hearing others’ perspectives can create new areas for — and forms of — collaboration.

“You can envision people at Meyers becoming familiar with the work at Howard and vice versa,” Goldsamt said. “I imagine as people in both institutions learn about the work that the others are doing, there will be natural areas of collaboration.”

The partnership will also allow Howard and NYU students and faculty to work side by side and apply for grants and funds for new research projects. In turn, this will allow for a broader range of perspectives in research, according to Lyndon.

“What we have the opportunity to do here is to model a different way of working together,” Lyndon said. “We’re going to create some new solutions that can then be implemented in other places as well … I think, unfortunately, there’s been more talk than action in a lot of situations. We have the opportunity to create some action, which is really exciting.”