To close out 2023, we will be sharing a series of highlights from the year on our blog. We hope you enjoy!
On June 8-9, Frontier Nursing University held its 13th annual Diversity Impact Conference. The Diversity Impact Conference brings together renowned thought leaders and speakers to increase awareness of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the healthcare workforce, particularly for those working in underserved and rural communities. This year, for the first time, the conference was made available for attendees outside of FNU. Students attending any institution were allowed to register for the conference for free. A total of 134 attended the conference, including 39 students.
“This event is all about collaboration, learning, and growing,” said FNU Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dr. Paula Alexander-Delpech, Ph.D., PMHNP-BC, APRN. “I’m confident that this event benefits any university, department, or individual.”
The 2023 Diversity Impact Conference was conducted via Zoom with the overarching theme: “Better Together: Advancing a Culture of Identity and Belonging in Healthcare.” The two-day event featured keynote presentations on both days from nationally recognized leaders in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Additional sessions included panel discussions, breakout sessions, and time for reflection.
The opening keynote address was given by Dr. Tia Brown McNair, Vice President of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers at the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, D.C. Dr. McNair is the lead author of “From Equity Talk to Equity Walk.”
On the second day of the conference, the keynote speaker was Rebekka Eshler, National President of the Transgender American Veterans Association in Washington, D.C. She spoke about pronouns and why they matter, and the importance of using a person’s correct name rather than their “dead” name. She shared data demonstrating that utilizing the correct pronouns reduces suicide rates by two-thirds among transgender individuals.
Among the other presentations throughout the conference was a panel discussion with DEI officers from other universities and organizations, discussing the challenges and successes of offices of DEI throughout the country. Marisa Hamamoto, the founder of Infinite Flow, an award-winning nonprofit dance company that employs disabled and nondisabled artists with diverse, intersectional identities with a mission to use dance as a catalyst to dismantle biases and promote inclusion., spoke on the importance of accessibility and inclusivity.
Dr. Patricia Bradley, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Associate Professor and the Inaugural Associate Dean of Inclusive Excellence at the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing (FCN) at Villanova University, presented on “Creating a Culture of Inclusion and Belonging in Nursing Education.” FNU Regional Clinical Faculty Dr. Heidi Loomis, DM, CRNP, CNM, presented “Graduate Midwifery Students’ Experiences of Bias in the Clinical Setting.”
On day two of the event, FNU President Dr. Susan Stone gave a presentation, “FNU Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts: Past, Present, Future.” In her presentation, Dr. Stone shared FNU’s history and acknowledgment statement, how and why FNU chose to make DEI a priority focus, and the results of those efforts to date. In addition to steadily improving diversity enrollment since the DEI efforts began, Dr. Stone shared the importance of the entire FNU community supporting these initiatives and gave the example of the FNU Board of Directors, who created their own DEI Committee and established a $2 million dollar endowed fund for scholarships for underrepresented students.
“When Frontier Nursing University first held the ‘Diversity Impact Conference’ over a decade ago, we chose the name carefully. ‘Diversity’ and ‘conference’ were obvious choices, but the word that truly describes what this conference is all about is ‘impact’,” Frontier Nursing University President Dr. Susan Stone, DNSc, CNM, FACNM, FAAN, said. “Diversity is more than a concept or a pie chart. Whether in an organization, a neighborhood, a business, or a school, diversity has an impact. That impact comes in many forms. In Frontier’s particular area of preparing advanced practice nurses and nurse-midwives, the impact of a diverse student body, diverse faculty, and diverse staff results in diverse graduates who are equipped to answer the call to serve in the communities in which they live all over the country.”
FNU has already begun making plans for the 14th annual Diversity Impact Conference to be held in 2024. With the addition of external attendees, this signature event continues to grow and widen its important message and reach.
“Advancing a culture of identity and belonging is a hallmark of FNU,” said FNU Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Chris Turley. “We aim to continue breaking down barriers by engaging stakeholders and impacting every community we touch.