Columbia Nursing Recognizes National Hispanic Heritage Month
This Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 through October 15, Columbia Nursing honors the many Hispanic and Latinx nurses, alumni, students, and faculty who enrich our school and health care systems around the globe. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and Pew Research Center, only 4% of RNs in the U.S. are Hispanic, even though Hispanic peoples make up 18% of the U.S. population. This Hispanic Heritage Month serves as a reminder that with a diverse nursing workforce comes a wider breath of knowledge and skills to better serve patients with diverse needs.
In recognition of the Hispanic and Latinx nurses in our community, we want to highlight the work of three of our faculty members who continue to make significant contributions to health care in research, education, and clinical practice.
Adriana Arcia, PhD
Adriana Arcia, Assistant Professor, studies information visualization as a way to overcome the challenge of limited health literacy; making it easy for patients to understand and use information to manage their health. Her recent publication, “Helping Hispanic Family Caregivers of Persons with Dementia ‘Get the Picture’ About Health Status Through Tailored Infographics” reported that visualizations can help caregivers understand how caregiving affects their own health status and thus motivate them to take beneficial actions, such as doing yoga or getting caregiving help. This study, and others focusing on Hispanic populations, are crucial to addressing the information needs of Hispanics and other underserved populations.
In addition to information visualization, Arcia is passionate about helping to train the next generation of Latinx nurses. Arcia says, “I find that one of my most valuable nursing skills is my ability to speak Spanish, because even in clinical settings that serve primarily Spanish-speaking populations, it’s quite common to not have any staff on shift who can meet that language need. This demonstrates the critical importance of making sure that our nursing workforce reflects the cultural and linguistic diversity of the patients we serve.”
Billy Caceres, PhD
Billy Caceres, Assistant Professor, primarily focuses his research on the reach of social and behavioral factors that increase risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in marginalized populations. Of note, his current study, “Sociocultural Influences on the Association of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Latinas” investigates how high rates of reported PTSD may be connected to high rates of cardiovascular disease among Latinas.
Caceres says, “This year I am especially proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. As a Latinx nurse scientist I am committed to promoting the cardiovascular health of Latinx individuals. My personal and professional experiences have highlighted the importance of addressing social determinants that contribute to cardiovascular health disparities among Latinx adults. I hope to continue to conduct research that highlights the diversity of experiences that exist within the Latinx community.”
Sandra Alvarado, MS
Sandra Alvarado, Instructor of Nursing, serves as a mental health nurse practitioner at our ColumbiaDoctors Primary Care Nurse Practioner Group in Washington Heights. She has been a certified psychotherapist for over 37 years, providing psychotherapy and medication management to adults. Alvarado’s clinical interests include the mental health needs of underserved Latina women.
Alvarado said, “Currently we are facing unprecedented challenges with COVID-19, an illness that has brought massive disruptions and losses in quality of life and triggered psychosocial stressors that have made the availability of mental health services that much more crucial. These effects have disproportionately hit minority communities the hardest where—according to data from the NYC Dept of Health—Hispanics, who make up 29% of the N.Y.C. population, represent 34% of coronavirus deaths.
With the increase in depression, anxiety and trauma triggered by COVID-19, there is an unprecedented need for mental health services and I am grateful for the opportunity, as part of the Nurse Practitioner Group, to be able to provide culturally relevant and bilingual mental health services.”