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February 17 - Inclusivity/Diversity

NLN Member Update
header XXI, Issue Number 4

February 17, 2015
bevphoto Dear Colleagues,

If you visit the NLN office in Washington, DC or meet members of our staff at the NLN Education Summit, you will be instantly aware of our diversity, one of our core values. We illustrate that oft-mentioned “rainbow coalition.” We hail from across the country and around the world, and our backgrounds vary significantly. We have long worked to create awareness of the need for a strong and diverse workforce, and we have addressed the need for nursing education to step up and lead the way. In other words, we do our best to live the NLN mission: “promote excellence in nursing education to build a strong and diverse nursing workforce to advance the health of the nation and the global community.”

Colleagues, we still have a long way to go. Despite some recent gains, RNs from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds remain grossly underrepresented in the workforce compared to the general population. That, along with the shortage of men in nursing, has serious implications for health care and access to care, leading to troublesome disparities for large numbers of the population. Clearly this is a pipeline issue that begins in academia. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, in a 2013 analysis of job titles, noted that nurse faculty and nurse executives had the least diversity when compared to staff nurse positions. And the problem is not only one of numbers. At the NLN, we see diversity as inclusivity, the notion that individuals are unique, self-aware, and respectful of the richness of others. We know that even when the numbers are favorable, the failure to provide a welcoming atmosphere of meaningful inclusion and academic support activities can have a negative impact on student retention.

After years of attention to these issues, the NLN Center for Diversity and Global Initiatives, under the direction of Dr. Virginia Adams, convened a Strategic Action Group whose job it was to explore current realities and issue recommendations for faculty, for schools of nursing, and for the NLN. Their work has been amazing, and, as you may have seen in yesterday’s NLN news release, the result is our newest addition to the NLN Vision Series, approved by the Board of Governors in January: “Achieving Diversity and Meaningful Inclusion in Nursing Education.” I hope you will read it in its entirety, but first let me tell you about the composition of the group.

bullet Dr. Kenya V. Beard is associate vice president for curriculum and instruction and director, Center for Multicultural Education and Health Disparities at Jersey College.
bullet Dr. J. Margo Brooks Carthon is a Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Scholar, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
bullet Dr. Bronwynne Evans is professor and director, PhD in Nursing and Healthcare Innovation, Arizona State University.
bullet Dr. Laura C. Hein is associate professor, College of Nursing, University of South Carolina.
bullet Dr. Leslie Neal-Boylan is dean and professor, College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.
bullet Dan Suarez is with Nurse.com, Gannett Healthcare Group, New York/New Jersey Edition.
bullet Dr. Patti R. Zuzelo is clinical professor of nursing in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University.

The group was inclusive in its work, exploring issues of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity; LGBTQ health care; nurses with disabilities; and the lack of diversity among faculty in nursing education. They discussed barriers to diversity and inclusion in nursing education, and they took on the thorny issue of micro-inequities, those often unconscious messages that devalue and discourage individuals and often impede their academic performance. As always with NLN Vision Statements, they offer concrete recommendations for moving forward.

Colleagues, as you undoubtedly realize, this is an issue of great importance not only to me but to all of us in health care. There is nothing about it that is easy, but I am certain that this new work from the NLN will have a broad and ongoing impact on today’s conversations and tomorrow’s policies. What a great time to release this important vision statement as February, Black History Month, introduces itself to the year 2016. As we work together to develop a nurse workforce that mirrors the population, I am confident that we will make great strides toward advancing the health of our nation and the global community.

Before I close, I wanted to offer a note of sadness on the loss of two very special people.

When I knew Dr. Elizabeth Tornquist, a staunch advocate for and great friend of nursing, she was a brilliant writer and editor on the UNC Chapel Hill campus. She generously agreed to work with my faculty at North Carolina Agriculture and State University (an HBCU) School of Nursing. I wanted them to publish and Elizabeth held the keys to the art of publishing. She was a magnificent teacher and such a wonderful human being.

Convinced of the empowerment that comes from education, Andy Mengel set out to improve opportunities for others, especially first-generation college students and those looking for a second chance at careers. Andy worked with colleagues to create new ways to educate nursing students, launching programs to attract minorities for advanced degrees and improve nursing care for seniors. At the NLN this was manifested through her critical contributions to the NLN’s Advancing Care Excellence for Seniors (ACE.S) program.

Thank you Elizabeth and Andy for all you have done for so many throughout the years.

Best

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Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN
Chief Executive Officer

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