On October 20, 2018, a melting pot of over 800 newly-minted nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners from 47 states and three countries was charged with improving the landscape of maternity and family care. Each graduate that was recognized at the commencement festivities had completed his or her respective programs between October 2017 and October 2018.
While enrolled in distance education programs, these Frontier Nursing University (FNU) students learned more than just the technical aspects of their health care specialty. The FNU education model places its focus on preparing a diverse workforce of competent, entrepreneurial, ethical and compassionate leaders in primary care that will provide culturally-concordant care, improving health outcomes for women and families in diverse, rural and underserved populations.
DiversityNursing.com recently featured FNU on its blog for realizing this goal through diversity-related programming, initiatives and partnerships with like-minded organizations. Read the full article here – FNU Makes Diversity in Nursing a Reality.
With that focus instilled in each one, the 2018 graduates are poised to answer the call and change their communities.
Statistics find that approximately 700 women around the U.S. die of pregnancy complications per year, while 50,000 cases are near misses. Many of those cases are disproportionately correlated to race.
For example, African American women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die in and around childbirth than their white counterparts. However, only 6 percent of the current midwifery workforce in the U.S. is made up of men and women of color.
FNU President Dr. Susan Stone, DNSc, CNM, FACNM, FAAN advocates for building a diverse midwifery workforce among the FNU community as well as through the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), an organization for which she also serves as president.
Under Stone’s charge, FNU’s initiative is to diversify the nursing workforce in primary care to provide better health outcomes for women and families across the nation. FNU has recently brought on two executive team members in Dr. Maria Valentin-Welch, DNP, MPH, CDP, CNM, FACNM, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer and Devon Peterika, MS, Assistant Director of Diversity & Inclusion. The new hires in these inaugural posts will guide FNU on matters of equity, diversity and inclusion. Former PRIDE Coordinator, Wilvena McDowell-Bernard, was recently given the title of Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator to better reflect her expanded responsibilities to serve all of FNU.
In addition to a staff and faculty that emphasize diversity, FNU students also have programming opportunities such as hosting and attending the annual Diversity Impact Student Conference and membership in the PRIDE Program, which promotes recruitment and retention to increase diversity in nurse-midwifery and nurse practitioner education. The PRIDE Program will soon be renamed “Diversity Impact Program,” to support the vision and strategy that champions the importance of a diverse and inclusive environment that values and supports all members of the university’s community. The program is being relocated to reside within the Diversity and Inclusion office.
Today, 23% of FNU students are men and women of color – up from just 9% in 2010. Over half of FNU’s 2,200 currently-enrolled students hail from a federally-designated rural area.
Because of its diversity and inclusion efforts, FNU recently received the 2018 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.
The HEED Award is a national honor recognizing U.S. medical, dental, pharmacy, osteopathic, nursing, veterinary, allied health, and other health schools and centers that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. This was the first time FNU has received the prestigious award.
“We believe in the benefits of a diverse university and in the positive impacts our diverse graduates can make in communities across the country,” said Dr. Stone.
“Our graduates serve people of all races and cultures and are increasingly coming from diverse backgrounds. It is imperative that our students, faculty and staff have cultural awareness and competency in order to effectively advance our mission of servant leadership.”
Dr. Stone, the Diversity and Inclusion department and the entire FNU staff and faculty will continue to push FNU forward in its efforts to diversify the health care workforce and educate nurse-midwives and nurse-practitioners that will answer the call to change their communities.