The recent events in our country have provided a glaring reminder that, unfortunately, not all people in our nation are provided with the rights, justice, and dignity they deserve. As President Dr. Susan Stone said in her recent statement to the Frontier Nursing University (FNU) community:
“Deep racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities exist in our country. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, and so many others across this country at the hands of those who are supposed to protect us are indicators that we have a very long way to go in our efforts to eradicate systemic racism.”
Systemic racism has an impact on every person, institution, and industry in our nation. For years, the FNU community has been passionate about fighting systemic racism within the healthcare system, and that passion continues to grow in light of our current climate. We understand that where diversity is lacking among healthcare professionals, patients suffer.
FNU is dedicated to helping diversify the nursing and nurse-midwifery workforce in primary care. Our distance education model places its focus on preparing a diverse workforce of competent, entrepreneurial, ethical, and compassionate healthcare leaders that provide culturally-concordant care, helping improve health outcomes for women and families, especially in rural and underserved populations.
Here are a few ways FNU prioritizes diversity:
Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
FNU has been committed to expanding diversity representation in faculty, staff, and students since 2006. In 2017, FNU added a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) position, which is a member of the President’s Cabinet. Dr. Maria Valentin-Welch was FNU’s first CDIO and, behind her leadership, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has now grown to include the CDIO (Geraldine Young), Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator (Chris Turley) and Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion (Devon Peterika).
The goal of FNU’s Office of DEI is to ensure students, faculty, and staff are provided with an environment that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion, and encourages the success of all community members. The Office of DEI encompasses an atmosphere built on a culture of caring and solicits the equitable perspectives of students, faculty, and staff regardless of race, gender, sexual preference or identity, disability, and/or religion.
In early 2020, Dr. Geraldine Young became the newest CDIO. Dr. Young has a rich history serving rural Mississippi through a wide variety of health, inclusion, and social mobility projects. In a recent interview, Dr. Young shared her enthusiasm over having the opportunity to “expand the impact of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at FNU to improve the health outcomes of diverse patient populations in underserved and rural areas in the U.S.”
Diversity Impact Program
One of the top ways that FNU makes diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority is through our Diversity Impact Program. The Diversity Impact Program was created in 2010 to promote an inclusive learning and workforce environment within our University with the goal of recruiting and retaining more underrepresented students and employees. Expanding the pool of nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to include more underrepresented groups helps to strengthen our University and the healthcare world as a whole. We have been thrilled to see FNU’s enrollment of students of color rise from 9 percent to 24 percent since the introduction of the program, and we are excited to see that number continue to grow.
The Diversity Impact Program offers many ways for students to find their voice including scholarship opportunities, a quarterly speaking series with discussions focused on cultural awareness and inclusion, access to our multicultural center, opportunities to represent FNU at national conferences and events, and opportunities to participate in workgroups, committees and a closed Diversity Impact social media group.
Diversity Impact Conference
FNU loves celebrating our differences throughout the year with a variety of events and activities, especially the annual Diversity Impact Conference. This year, we hosted the 10th Annual Diversity Impact Conference with the theme, “Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020: Increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” The theme follows the lead of the World Health Organization (WHO) which designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. At FNU, we believe that in order to provide the best quality nursing and midwifery care to all people, cultural respect and inclusion are essential. Unlike our previous conferences, this year’s event was fully virtual due to the current COVID-9 Pandemic, but we were pleased to see high engagement and great feedback!
In 2019, the in-person conference was packed with activities and workshops on a variety of topics including positive marginality, indigenous/Native American nurse-midwives, and the LGBTQ community. Our central goals of the conference are for students to leave feeling more comfortable sharing their own beliefs and experiences while also learning how to create meaningful connections across all backgrounds and communities.
Diversity Impact Quarterly Speaking Series
In addition to the Diversity Impact Conference, FNU holds a quarterly speaking series, encouraging our students and employees to become global thinkers and healthcare leaders within their communities. The series includes discussions on cultural awareness and inclusion to enhance each student’s experience to better serve diverse populations with confidence and ease. The series offers a unique aspect of shared perspectives that promote cross-cultural learning among students and their peers, along with the overall pursuit of academic success as a student-learner.
National Diversity Conferences and Events
Each year, FNU’s Office of DEI – Diversity Impact Program represents the University at nursing events around the U.S. FNU highlights the diversity program at several professional conferences through presentations, networking, exhibits, and recruitment of underrepresented students and employees. Students are given the opportunity to attend conferences as Student Ambassadors. With the availability of the Professional Organization Mentoring Program (POMP), the Office of DEI also provides mentoring services for underrepresented students at professional conferences. In 2020, many conference and event participation opportunities have been offered virtually instead of in person. These activities are intended to bring awareness to the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in nursing.
Diversity and Inclusion Committee
At FNU, our students have the opportunity to join the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. This committee consists of faculty, staff, and students that are passionate about developing, promoting, and providing programs and resources to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the University and healthcare workforce.
FNU was honored to receive the prestigious INSIGHT Into Diversity Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award in both 2018 and 2019. Although we are proud to be recognized for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, we know that to truly champion diversity and improve health outcomes for as many women and families as possible, we must continue to push the envelope when it comes to inclusion awareness.
If you are interested in learning more about the efforts FNU is making to celebrate diversity, please visit our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nursing and Midwifery page. Additionally, if you want to be a part of a university with a passion to include and support those of all backgrounds, please visit the FNU admissions page. We would love to have you in our community!
“We oppose injustice and cruelty and condemn racism in all its forms. We support peaceful protests and demonstrations and join all those working to end systemic racism, racial violence, and police brutality. We are committed to building a culture that is inclusive and caring for all.” – Dr. Susan Stone
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