Published December 15, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC, December 15, 2020 – As a primary advocate for advancing diversity and inclusion within schools of nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is pleased to announce that its Board of Directors has endorsed a new white paper titled Promising Practices in Holistic Admissions Review: Implementation in Academic Nursing. This new resource provides a roadmap for schools looking to recruit more students from underrepresented groups into the nursing profession using evidence-based strategies and admissions redesign.
“Diversifying the nursing workforce is essential to meeting the nation’s healthcare needs, addressing health inequities in historically underserved communities, and promoting greater access to care,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer. “AACN is committed to helping nursing schools make the structural changes needed to create a student population reflective of the communities we serve. This new white paper provides practical guidance to assist schools with meeting this critical goal.”
Even with strong consensus regarding the need to bring more individuals from diverse backgrounds into the nursing profession, the mechanisms available to achieve this goal are too few and often fall short. One effective practice used extensively by the other health professions to achieve diversity goals is Holistic Admissions Review. This approach takes a broader look at a prospective student’s qualifications to enter an academic program, which extends beyond traditional enrollment metrics. In addition to reviewing grades and test scores, Holistic Admissions Review is designed to help schools consider a broad range of factors reflecting an applicant’s academic readiness, contribution to the incoming class, past work and life experiences, and potential for success both in school and later as a professional.
AACN began advocating for Holistic Admissions Review in 2016 by collaborating with Urban Universities for Health to provide two workshops to deans of nursing schools on this recruitment strategy. Following these initial workshops, the initiative was accelerated when the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), released a Nursing Workforce Diversity funding opportunity in 2017 that included a provision for nursing schools to implement holistic admissions practices. Additionally, schools were required to engage with a professional organization for technical assistance and training. AACN has provided technical assistance and diversity training for 32 of the 34 grant-funded schools over the past three years. Holistic Admissions Review workshops have been presented to 20 nursing schools from 2018-2020 in addition to the 64 workshops presented to the HRSA grant-funded schools.
Promising Practices for Holistic Admissions Review: Implementation in Academic Nursing presents a rich compilation of lessons learned over the past three years as a result of providing instruction and implementation guidance to more than 50 schools of nursing. These schools ranged from community colleges to academic health centers and were geographically distributed among 27 states. This broad representation allows these lessons learned to be generalizable to many nursing programs.
The white paper outlines the three phases academic institutions enter when adopting Holistic Admissions Review, while addressing many key considerations, including:
- Adapting mission, vision, and value statements to champion diversity and inclusion
- Initiating systems redesign to support a shift in admission strategy
- Budgeting and fiscal considerations
- Staff and faculty development needs
- Best practices connected to student retention
- Using technology to enhance efficiency
- Utilizing nursing’s centralized application service (NursingCAS) to support holistic admissions
The white paper may be downloaded from the AACN website here. For more information on AACN’s efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic, click here.