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October 18, 2017 | NLN CEO Update on Global Diversity Awareness Month

NLN Member Update October 18 2017
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October 18, 2017
bevphoto Dear Colleagues,

It’s right there in our mission statement, colleagues: “The NLN will promote excellence in nursing education to build a strong and diverse nursing workforce.” Diversity is one of the NLN’s core values (along with caring, integrity, and excellence). And last year, we issued a Vision Statement: “Achieving Diversity and Meaningful Inclusion in Nursing Education.” But, you may be asking, how does the NLN promote diversity in nursing education? And that is a very good question.

Our most recent data, from the NLN Biennial Survey of Schools of Nursing Academic Year 2015-2016, has shown that the percentage of racial-ethnic minority students enrolled in prelicensure RN programs has increased slightly overall since 2012, due mainly to a small increase in enrollments by Hispanic students, but enrollments by African American students actually dipped during this time. That, we know, is an untenable situation. As we point out in the introduction to the our Vision Statement on diversity and inclusion, “Diversity and quality health care are inseparable. Together they create a path to increased access and improved health and can eliminate health disparities.”

The NLN does not limit the concept of diversity to ethnicity. Rather, we recognize that “diversity signifies that each individual is unique [with] individual differences – race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other attributes.” Our focus on diversity “encourages self-awareness and respect for all persons, embracing and celebrating the richness of each individual.”

Well, I’m pleased to share that October happens to be Global Diversity Awareness Month, and it is a good time to announce two small but exciting diversity-related projects involving the NLN.

First, let me report that we, the NLN, have established a partnership with the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence to provide diversity-related technical assistance services for a nursing workforce development project titled “Achieving System-Wide Impact: A Statewide Six Institution Nursing Student Diversity Collaborative.” Its goal is to promote holistic admissions within the six participating schools of nursing. We will assist by producing a webinar and providing coaching for faculty and by hosting a conference for the six participating schools. Dr. Janice Brewington, chief program officer for the NLN, will take the lead in developing this program.

Janice will also administer the second project, “Action Coalition to Increase Diversity in Nursing by Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Nursing Programs.” Funded by the National Institute on Minority Health Disparities, this project will involve a conference for five-member faculty teams from six HBCUs. I am certain that we will all learn a lot from both of these projects. When people get together in small groups and engage in courageous conversation, there is no telling what great ideas will emerge.

I am also happy to report that Janice will work with Dr. Kenya Beard, associate professor at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, whose research speaks to the complexity of diversity. Last June, with Dr. Paula Moreau, Kenya facilitated a one-day workshop at the NLN titled “Diversity & Inclusion: How to Be a Highly Effective Educator.” She has agreed to be back with us again next summer – look for the announcement. And don't forget to use the NLN Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit, revised in 2016 to provide evidence-based, exemplary practices to inform diversity and inclusion initiatives at all schools of nursing. By the way, all of this work comes from the NLN Center for Diversity and Global Initiatives.

I wish I could conclude this Member Update on a positive note, colleagues, but I have a lot on my mind. I am still concerned about our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as they live with the public health emergency brought about by Hurricane Maria. And I am very aware of the fires in northern California, where the death toll has been rising and the extent of the devastation has shocked us all. Then, also, I have been thinking about the future of the Affordable Care Act and how the president’s recent executive orders will affect the health of our citizens. There are times when sleep totally evades me. I have promised not to worry, but I must admit I come very close to that nonproductive activity. So, what can we at the NLN do to help?

First, we can count on Christine Murphy, director of public policy and advocacy at the NLN, to keep us informed as events change. Second, we will stay connected to our colleagues in the nursing community and be ready always to have conversations with our representatives. We hope that you will keep an eye on the NLN Advocacy Action Center and take action as you can. The Action Center, and the Capitol Connection, published the first Tuesday of each month, are excellent resources for nursing students. Check out Christine’s recent blog post outlining specifics of the president’s executive orders.

All best wishes, colleagues. Let’s work together to ensure policymakers make improvements to benefit us all. Let’s work together to continue to ensure quality nursing education and health care for the nation and the global community. Let’s work together…

All the best,

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Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN
Chief Executive Officer

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