For almost three decades, the Ethnic Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) of the American Nurses Association (ANA) has been engaged in the challenge of reshaping the profile of nurse leaders in research, clinical practice, and academia. The efforts of the MFP have resulted in an increase in the numbers of ethnic/minority nurses who have expertise in psychiatric/mental health nursing. About 266 MFP Fellows with earned doctorates help to document the program's success in increasing the needed diversity across all domains of the profession.
Fellows of the MFP have contributed to nursing's theoretical and empirical knowledge base about the distinctive needs and strengths of ethnic minority populations and to the much needed dialogue about nursing's role in providing culturally competent and linguistically appropriate health care services. Some of the graduates are employed as clinicians, who work in high risk urban and rural areas, providing care to children and families who are victims of violence, HIV/AIDS, and substance abuse. Others provide direct care to the mentally ill who reside in a variety of settings such as state hospitals and community based homes. Still, others work in community clinics and outreach programs, and are often the primary care providers for indigent patients and their families, who might otherwise go without needed mental health services.
A substantial number of the Fellows seek and retain employment in academic settings where they teach, conduct research, and participate in the promulgation of public policy. These fellows generate research on ethnic/minority mental health service utilization, evidence-based assumptions that culturally appropriate research and public policy aid all professionals in their efforts to provide effective and culturally relevant care to individuals and their families. These approaches help to reduce and eliminate health care disparities, lessen the cost of health care, minimize the impact of stigma that is attached to mental illness in some communities, and improve the nation's overall health status.