Report on New York Institute of Technology School of Health Professions, Behavioral & Life Sciences Transcultural Nursing Program

by PaJa Lee Donnelly, Ph.D., APRN, BC
Assistant professor
School of Health Professions, Behavioral, & Life Sciences
New York Institute of Technology

The New York Institute of Technology (NYIT ) Transcultural Nursing Program (TCN) is a generic Bachelor of Science of Nursing Program that incorporates transcultural nursing concepts and theories into the nursing core curriculum. It is a unique program and the first one accredited in the State of New York, in September 2000.

The NYIT Transcultural Nursing Program has evolved to provide an ethnically diverse workforce to meet demands of the multicultural community, and to provide culturally appropriate nursing care. Originally, this program was initiated to meet the current shortage of Hispanic nurses and to increase opportunities for individuals from culturally diverse background to pursue a nursing education.

The primary clinical site for the Department of Nursing students has been St. Barnabas Hospital located in the South Bronx, which is mainly servicing a Hispanic population. In New York City, about 65 % of the Hispanic population resides in the Bronx, and their average household income is below the national poverty level.

However, St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx has only been able to recruit eight percent Hispanic nurses at that time. According to the American Nurses Association, two percent of Hispanic nurses are currently working in the United States. It is also predicted that one fourth of U.S population will be Spanish speaking by the year 2020 (Boyle, 2000). Currently, Hispanics comprise 27 percent of the New York City population (Buetting & Blood, 2001, March 16) and one of the NYIT Manhattan Campus is located in the heart of the New York City, near Columbus circle.

The NYIT Nursing Department admitted its first class in the fall of 1996. Originally, 24 students were admitted into the program, and the first five students graduated in May 2000. Since then, 55 students graduated by 2003 and currently 175 students are enrolled in the nursing program. Twenty four students are expected to graduate in May 2004. The transcultural-nursing students came from various ethnic backgrounds. Approximately 75 % of students are minority nursing students: Hispanic, African American, Asian/ Pacific Islanders, and others. Fifty percent of the full time faculty members and adjunct professors come from culturally diverse backgrounds.

The conceptual framework for the NYIT Nursing program is based on transcultural nursing theory (Leininger's Culture Care Diversity and Universality theory). In this paradigm, clients are recognized as unique individuals from the holistic perspective, and nursing care decisions and actions are based upon the client's world-view. Since health and illness are defined according to culture, the NYIT-TCN Program has incorporated transcultural nursing theories and concepts into the nursing core curriculum.

The students in the TCN program, prior to entering their junior years, are required to obtain 25 credits of Life science courses and 22 credits of Social and Behavioral Sciences including six credits in anthropology courses. A total of 129 credits are required to graduate and obtain a Bachelor of Science of Nursing. Classes are held at both the Manhattan Campus near Columbus circle and the Old Westbury Campus on Long Island. Upon completion of all required science courses, students take the first nursing introduction course in their sophomore year.

The TCN program consists of two components: a transcultural nursing theory component and a clinical nursing therapeutic component. Each component has four levels: Transcultural Nursing Theory (TCN I. II. III. IV) and Nursing Therapeutics (NT I. II. III. IV). For instance, students are required to take TCN one and NT one simultaneously, and progress to TCN two with NT two in their junior years. In the senior years, they complete TCN and NT three and four along with other courses. All students in the program are required to learn three different ethnic cultures in each TCN theory course.

The innovative New York Institute of Technology Transcultural Nursing Program is built upon a solid foundation of life sciences, social, behavioral sciences, and liberal arts and evolved to bridge the gap between the nursing education and nursing service. Therefore, TCN students are well prepared to care for ethnically diverse clients and to work competently in the culturally diverse health care system when they graduate.