Clinical Trials Still Don’t Reflect America

From NPR: Clinical Trials Still Don’t Reflect America’s Diversity.

Why do we care if participants in clinical trials are from diverse backgrounds? Because clinical trials are the mechanism we use to ensure that medical interventions are safe and effective for everyone. When we only conduct trials on a homogenous group we miss critical information about how treatments or medications affect people outside of that group.

These statistics are taken directly from the FDA whitepaper, Dialogues on Diversifying Clinical Trials: African Americans make up roughly 12% of the US population, but 5% of clinical trial participants. Hispanics are 16% of the population and 1% of clinical trial participants. Diabetes and hypertension are more prevalent in both groups than in the general population. There are significant barriers to participation in research by women and minorities, including: mistrust of the medical establishment, budgetary constraints, lack of access to research centers and reluctance on the part of researchers to diversify.

It is 2016 and well past time for clinical trials that reflect the racial make-up of the population. We aren’t all white men aged 18-24. It’s time to stop ignoring the rest of us.


*The information in this post is part of a class project being undertaken by the author and two classmates.*

Woman Crush Wednesday

Multicultural’s Woman Crush Wednesday this week is Dr. Wallena Gould of DiversityCRNA. Dr. Gould is making a difference every day by mentoring minority nurses who are seeking to further their education in the field of anesthesia.

If you are a nurse and your racial or ethnic background places you in the minority in the United States, and if you are interested in exploring a career in nurse anesthesia, it would be worth your time to see what Dr. Gould and DiversityCRNA have to offer.


Dr. Gould is a tireless advocate for diversity in nursing, and she is putting forth exactly the kind of boots-on-the-ground activism that changes lives. This is how we do it, folks.


How White Are We?

Making the statement that nursing is a predominantly white profession raises the question of numbers. What do we mean when we say that our profession doesn’t accurately represent the racial and ethnic make-up of the United States?

Here’s a graph I borrowed from The Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. Their focus in the linked document is increasing diversity in conservation, so I certainly encourage you to visit their site and learn about their efforts if conservation is an interest of yours. That said, this graph depicts the racial and ethnic distribution of the population of the United States in 2012, per the U. S. census bureau.

Population by race 2012

Next, I visited the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, where I pulled demographic data on nursing for 2012 and compiled it into this table:

Occupation White African-American Asian Hispanic or Latino American Indian or

Alaska Native

Hawaiian Native or Pacific Islander Other
Advanced Practice Nurse 89.5 5.2 4 4.4 0.2 NR 1.1
Registered Nurse  














Vocational Nurse  














Nursing Aide  














***Percentages in the table do not add up to 100% because Hispanic/Latina are ethnic groups that may belong to more than one race***

If nursing mirrored the population, our percentages at each level would match the total population percentages shown in the graph, above. What’s interesting to me about this data is that it is clear that we have ample numbers of persons of all races who are willing to the down-and-dirty work of hands-on care. Nursing aides have extremely heavy workloads. The pipeline to professional nursing, though, is clearly more effective for some groups than for others. There is work to be done, friends and colleagues, to make sure that opportunity for advancement in nursing isn’t restricted by race or ethnicity.



Wherein a Blog is Launched

Nursing is my profession and my passion. I have spent the past twenty-some years working as a nurse in various settings. I have worked in the emergency room, on a medical-surgical floor, in intensive care, in the operating room and in labor & delivery. I have worked in a nursing home. I have worked in hospice. I have worked in education and administration.  I have never met a nursing job I could not love. Along the way I’ve worked with countless wonderful nurses and I’ve earned three nursing degrees. I love almost everything about nursing except our appalling lack of diversity.

This blog is for you, my fellow nurses and nurses-to-be. It is the first step in my efforts to enhance diversity within our profession. I will collect and curate stories, articles, scholarly works and testimonials designed to open your eyes and inspire you to action. I will entertain discussions about tough topics like affirmative action and racial profiling from a healthcare perspective. Please note, though, that while discourse is encouraged, incivility and bullying are not. If you are unable to state your point without diminishing your colleagues you probably need to take your argument elsewhere. To that end, comments will be moderated.

Please feel free to contact me with comments, questions, suggestions or additions for this space. Ultimately I hope to have several co-authors from different nursing specialties contributing to this site, so if you want to contribute a guest post please contact me via the blog.