| Washington, DC — Walden University and the National League for Nursing are excited to launch the Institute for Social Determinants of Health and Social Change, which will be housed in the NLN Center for Transformational Leadership. The collaboration between the National League for Nursing, the nation’s first professional association for nurses and nurse educators, with Walden, a leading university dedicated to effecting positive social change, reflects contemporary thinking about the role nursing education must play in achieving health equity for people across race, gender, age, and socio-economic status.
The National League for Nursing and Walden University College of Nursing Institute for Social Determinants of Health and Social Change represents a five-year commitment to support professional development for nurse educators and inter-professional colleagues so they can:
• Become leaders and catalysts of social change
• Cultivate appropriate leadership competencies to integrate social change into their programs
• Incorporate social determinants of health into their practice programs and/or curricula across undergraduate and graduate studies
• Engage in research and other scholarly activities related to social determinants of health and social change with a view toward broad dissemination
“We couldn’t be more pleased with Walden University for its generous support of this worthy partnership and for facilitating the creation of this institute with the National League for Nursing,” says Dr. Beverly Malone, RN, FAAN, and president and CEO of the NLN. “The institute is destined to become an important addition to the professional development programs offered through the NLN Center for Transformational Leadership. With the Walden University College of Nursing committed to advancing global health through education and social change, our missions are perfectly aligned.”
Social determinants of health—factors such as food security, fresh air and water, adequate housing, and educational opportunities—have been proven to substantially impact the health and well-being of individuals, families, and entire communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted this phenomenon most starkly, with vulnerable populations being at the greatest risk for illness and death. Remediating unsafe and unhealthy conditions and environments has become a global public health concern.
“For more than 50 years, it has been Walden's mission to empower students to make a difference by addressing societal challenges where they live, in their professions, and on a global scale,” says Dr. Andrea Lindell, RN, ANEF, vice provost and dean of Walden’s College of Nursing. “Our social change mission and excellence in nursing education combined with the National League for Nursing’s expert leadership and advocacy, will create a groundbreaking institute for nurses, nurse educators, and other health professionals to profoundly change health education and healthcare for vulnerable populations.”
The inaugural health professionals competitively selected for the new institute will participate in a yearlong “Interprofessional Leadership Academy for Social Change.” The program consists of focused activities that will instill a visceral and conceptual understanding of health inequities and disparities through social determinants of health. These activities will include experiential exercises, such as role-playing, webinars, live interactive group calls, an intensive leadership retreat, individual leadership projects, and the annual NLN Education Summit.
The five-year timeline for the institute will culminate in a two-day “Interprofessional Conference on Social Determinants of Health and Social Change.” The conference will highlight the institute’s accomplishments and present research and innovations in social determinants of health and social change to health professionals from nursing education and practice, public health, social work, and mental health.
“As the largest group of health professionals, nurses play a vital role in improving health outcomes,” says Dr. Patricia S. Yoder-Wise, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAONL, FAAN, and chair of the NLN. “This project is groundbreaking in that it targets current and future care providers and equips them with tools and evidence-based resources on the social determinants of health, while assisting educators in graduating a more confident workforce with the knowledge and skills that align with current practice.”