The Wichita Black Nurses Association Celebrated their founders day with a special guest – their founder Frankie Manning — who lead the group through a discussion on recruitment and retention of minority nursing students, mentoring, scholarships and endowments. The event, entitled “Coming Together to Bridge the Gap, was held Oct. 10, at the Atwater Neighborhood Center, Wichita.

More than 50 nurses attended the event and true to the group’s goal to bridge the gap, several attendees were current nursing students. Bridging the gender gap, the group had one male nurse in attendance.

The Wichita Black Nurses Association was organized in Wichita in Oct. 1973. Manning attended the first meeting of the National Black Nurse’s Association in Cleveland, OH in Sept 1973 and came back excited about forming a local affiliate. A total of 65 nurses attended the first meeting, and everyone was surprised by the number of nurses who showed up. According to a historic magazine article on the initial meeting, “Most of the Black nurses present could not name 10 of the 60 nurses in the room, nor had they known that many to exist.”

Today, thanks to the Wichita Black Nurses Association, the nurses in attendance were much more familiar with each other. However, many of the issues that concerned the nurses 40 plus years ago continue to exist. Among the most talked about issue was attracting more African Americans into the field of nursing.

The Wichita Black Nurses Association is well known in Wichita. The ladies can be counted on to show up at job fairs, expos, health fairs, and community meetings of all kinds to provide blood pressure and diabetes screening. Those efforts are all part of their charge to close the healthcare gap. Their motto: “Whatever it takes.”

Manning, the chapter founder, made the trip from Washington State, where she currently resides to conduct the exploratory segment of the meeting. Manning, a retired Army officer. During her career, she held several roles in the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, on professional boards, and as a faculty member for several academic nursing programs.

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