Frontier Nursing University (FNU), located in Versailles, Ky., was announced as one of three recipients of the Diversity, Inclusion, and Sustainability in Nursing Education Leadership Awards presented annually by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). FNU joined Augusta University (Georgia) and the University of Illinois Chicago in being recognized this year for their strong commitment to diversity, inclusion, health equity, cultural humility, and community outreach.
“I applaud the 2021 award winners for being intentional about making diversity, equity, and inclusion a cornerstone of their programs’ success,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer. “With a focus on adapting systems and changing culture, these programs serve as exemplars for other nursing schools moving to create academic environments that welcome and respect students, faculty, and staff of color.”
Following a competitive process that was open to all 840 AACN member institutions, the winning schools were cited for their success in recruiting diverse students and faculty to their programs as well as creating inclusive and equitable learning environments. FNU received the Private Colleges and Universities Award. In the award announcement, AACN noted that “FNU is at the forefront as a leading activist for diversity in the nursing and midwifery professions. FNU has made diversity and inclusion a primary focus of the university’s mission and a measurable element of its progress.”
“This is a tremendous honor for Frontier,” said FNU President Dr. Susan Stone, CNM, DNSc, FAAN, FACNM. “While we are incredibly proud of the progress we have made to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion across all levels of our university, we recognize that we have much work still to do. We are fully committed to being an antiracist university and are grateful to be acknowledged as an example for others to follow.”
FNU Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Geraldine Young, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CDCES, FAANP, presented at AACN’s 2021 Diversity Symposium, which was held on November 9 and 10 as a virtual event. Dr. Young also served as a Lectureship Award Panel member at the AACN 2021 Diversity Symposium presenting on “Integrating Anti-racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nursing Education” to Mobilize and Strategize: Implementing DEI in Academic Nursing.
“The AACN has long been an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, so to be recognized by their Board of Directors in this manner is a tremendous accomplishment for Frontier,” said Dr. Young, who accepted the award on behalf of the university. “This recognition of our progress only strengthens our resolve to continue our meaningful work.”
FNU’s commitment to emphasizing and valuing diversity and inclusion was formally instituted with the creation of the Diversity Impact Program in 2010, with particular emphasis on increasing the enrollment of students of color. Since then, the focus has expanded to include all facets of the university, including increasing diversity within the faculty and staff, emphasis on student retention, and diversity and inclusion training for all members of the FNU community. Led by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, mentoring, tutoring, coaching, counseling, writing programs, and scholarships have been implemented to support students. The office also offers community-wide education including the Diversity Impact Conference — “Dismantling Systemic Racism and Discrimination in Healthcare: Our Roles and Responsibilities” — which was held in the summer of 2021.
To help direct the university’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and incorporate perspectives from all corners of the university, FNU has created several task forces and committees composed of faculty, staff, students, and volunteers. Created in 2015, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee develops, promotes, and provides programs and resources to enhance diversity throughout the university and healthcare workforce. The President’s DEI Task Force was formed in January 2021 to further FNU’s mission to become an antiracist university. The recently formed Antiracism and Bias Advisory Council (ABAC), derived by the FNU’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, is a diverse group of Frontier employees who will serve as an advisory board for any employee and student bias reporting.
In January 2021, the FNU Board of Directors (BOD) created a BOD Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee that is responsible for working with the Board of Directors and the administration to ensure that Frontier strives to be an antiracist university. In April 2021, the Board of Directors approved the endowment of a new scholarship to support African American, Black, Native American, and Alaskan Native students. The scholarship will support 10 students per year.
Earlier this year, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded FNU two grants totaling $4,140,000. The HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) grant totals $1,920,000 and the Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD) grant totals $2,220,000. HRSA, which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will award the funding for both grants in annual installments over the next four years. The goal of the BHWET program is to increase the number of psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners who are diverse in race, ethnicity, and other underrepresented populations serving in rural and medically underserved communities. The goal of the NWD program is to increase the number and diversity of certified nurse-midwives who serve in rural and underserved areas of the country in an effort to prevent and reduce maternal mortality.
About the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN):
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing nearly 840 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice
About Frontier Nursing University:
The mission of FNU is to provide accessible nurse-midwifery and nurse practitioner education to prepare competent, entrepreneurial, ethical, and compassionate leaders in primary care to serve all individuals with an emphasis on women and families in diverse, rural, and underserved populations. FNU offers graduate Nurse-Midwifery and Nurse-Practitioner distance education programs that can be pursued full- or part-time with the student’s home community serving as the classroom. Degrees and options offered include Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or Post-Graduate Certificates. In 2021, Frontier was named a “Great College to Work For” by the Great Colleges to Work For® program. To learn more about FNU and the programs and degrees offered, please visit Frontier.edu.