Published May 12, 2021
Academic Health Centers (AHCs) are accredited, degree-granting higher education institutions consisting of a medical school, other health profession schools or programs, and an owned or affiliated clinical enterprise such as a teaching hospital or health system.* Of the 1,038 nursing schools surveyed by AACN in Fall 2020, only 108 (10.4%) are associated with AHCs. Figure 1a depicts the percentage of AHC and non-AHC programs by degree type. Figure 1b depicts the percentage of students enrolled in AHC and non-AHC programs by degree type.
From 2016 to 2020, all types of nursing programs made progress in increasing the diversity of their student body. Figures 2 and 3 represent the diversity in graduate racial/ethnic minorities enrolled in both AHCs and non-AHCs from 2016 to 2020. In both AHCs and non-AHCs, the largest increase in the percentage of minority students, defined as non-White U.S. residents with known race/ethnicity, is in the DNP programs. This trend is likely related to the large increase in the number of DNP programs across the U.S. and the increase in DNP graduates from underrepresented minority groups. The enrollment of minority students has grown over the last 5 years in both AHCs and non-AHCs (Figure 4). Nursing schools should recognize the positive impact they are having on the progressive increase in enrollments of minority students into graduate programs.
AHCs are essential to producing and educating America’s future nurse leaders, faculty, and scientists. Their continued and increased commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion has the potential to transform health care by preparing a nursing workforce reflective of the population served. To this end, AACN encourages all nursing schools to adopt holistic admissions and has provided implementation guidance in a detailed white paper. Additional resources on advancing diversity and inclusion can be found at https://www.aacnnursing.org/Diversity.
Figure 1a. Percentage of Graduate Nursing Programs, AHC and non-AHC Schools, Fall 2020
Figure 1b. Enrollment in Graduate Nursing Programs, AHC and non-AHC Schools, Fall 2020
Figure 2. Percentage of Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Graduate Nursing Programs at AHCs, 2016 – 2020.
Percentage of Racial/Ethnic Minorities Enrolled in Graduate Nursing Programs at AHCs, 2016-2020
Figure 3. Percentage of Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Graduate Nursing Programs at non-AHCs, 2016 – 2020.
Percentage of Racial/Ethnic Minorities Enrolled in Graduate Nursing Programs at non-AHCs, 2016-2020
Figure 4. Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity AHC Status, and Program, 2016 and 2020
Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity, AHC Status, and Program, 2016 and 2020
*Definition from the Association of Academic Health Centers (2014).