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Intentional Inclusivity: Two Novel Programs Transforming Nursing Education

Our Race to Health Equity program spotlight
When the nursing workforce is more representative of the communities they care for, access to quality care and patient outcomes improve for all. But building a diverse workforce requires intentional inclusivity across the professional pipeline – including the nursing school environment. Two unique programs funded by Johnson & Johnson’s Our Race to Health Equity initiative (ORTHE) are proactively working to improve the experience of nurses and nursing students of color.
Nursing News & ProgramsNurses Leading Innovation

Intentional Inclusivity: Two Novel Programs Transforming Nursing Education

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When the nursing workforce is more representative of the communities they care for, access to quality care and patient outcomes improve for all. But building a diverse workforce requires intentional inclusivity across the professional pipeline – including the nursing school environment. Two unique programs funded by Johnson & Johnson’s Our Race to Health Equity initiative (ORTHE) are proactively working to improve the experience of nurses and nursing students of color.
Our Race to Health Equity program spotlight

What does it take to build an inclusive academic environment?

Today, Black and Hispanic nursing students and graduates still face substantial racial and ethnic education disparities, both in the classroom and on the job.

To build a thriving, diverse nursing workforce, it’s essential to first build and support a diverse nursing student body. And these nurses of color are critically important to healthcare, especially in providing culturally competent care for and building trust with historically underserved communities.

Innovating to Create Transformative Change

Two pilot initiatives, directed by nursing advocates and funded by Johnson & Johnson’s Our Race to Health Equity (ORTHE), are working to reduce the gap in racial health equity. Through ORTHE, Johnson & Johnson has committed $100 million over the next five years to support solutions that systemically address this situation.

Led by the National League for Nursing (NLN), one project supports nursing students of color in transitioning into clinical practice. The other, developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), focuses on understanding and supporting a feeling of belonging for students on campus. Both programs provide meaningful opportunities of support for nursing students of color on campus.

“Inclusive academic environments are a cornerstone of culturally competent care models, and essential to eliminating inequities for patients of color and building healthier communities,” said Lynda Benton, Senior Director, Global Community Impact Strategic Initiatives Johnson & Johnson Nursing. “Johnson & Johnson is honored to support these important initiatives, and we are enthusiastic about their potential to positively impact the careers of nurses of color, and the health of all communities.”

image of Dr. Janice Brewington
Dr. Janice Brewington

Transitioning Students into Leaders for Life

“Many factors impact nursing students and new graduates,” says Janice Brewington, PhD, RN, FAAN, chief program officer for the National League for Nursing (NLN) and director of their Center for Transformational Leadership. “Mentoring, building relationships, staffing patterns, integration into governance – all make a difference on how our new nurses deliver care. My philosophy is all nurses and nursing students are leaders. So how do we help them become self-authorized in their roles?”
To answer that question, the National League for Nursing created a year-long, multi-faceted program in leadership development called Transitioning Senior Nursing Students in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) into Clinical Practice, which provides leadership training and coaching for both students and nurse faculty.

Our Race to Health Equity program spotlight

Designed to motivate and prepare senior nursing students transitioning into the workplace, the two-pronged program was introduced to six HBCUs that offer associate degrees and four-year baccalaureate degrees in nursing. Faculty members learn skills and strategies to create welcoming, inclusive environments, and ways to better coach students and provide them with constructive feedback. While students explore new learning modules to develop their leadership skills and critical thinking and clinical judgement skills, group coaching sessions and leadership webinars teach them how to apply this new knowledge on the job.

“The impact of this year-long program will resonate far beyond this initial cohort to advance health outcomes for minority patients nationwide,” says Dr. Brewington, with additional HBCUs added for 2022-2023. “This program will also help hospitals and other health care providers expand diversity and improve retention of a young, savvy nursing workforce. We focused on HCBUs, but this program is valuable for any student transitioning to practice and can be replicated anywhere.”

Coppin State University nursing students

Before and after the program, NLN surveys the students to assess their perception of various, competencies, and NLN shares that to date, students report feeling more confident, increasingly see themselves as leaders, and are finding their voices. Full results are expected when the program concludes in 2024.

Building A Culture of Belonging

The academic experience should be one where all students feel a sense of belonging and purpose. Students of color, however, often have college experiences markedly different from their majority peers, and many nursing schools are limited in their ability to assess disparities facing students of color.

To build a more diverse nursing workforce, Dr. Vernell DeWitty, Senior Consultant for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), led the creation of a new survey approach to better learn the experiences of students in underrepresented groups. The Leading Across Multidimensional Perspectives (LAMP©) Culture and Climate Survey is intended to provide insight into how the learning environment is influencing student and faculty outcomes, identify areas for improvement, and spur the creation of work groups and action plans.

image of Dr. Vernell DeWitty
Dr. Vernell DeWitty

For example, through the survey, administrators can discern how students and faculty perceive their college classrooms across five areas: fair treatment and observations of discrimination, belongingness, value of diversity and inclusion, campus services, and clinical training.

The AACN also provides tools and frameworks for improving academic climates, including structured approaches to connect, communicate, and deepen campus dialogue to improve student and faculty success.

Fifty schools of nursing from 28 states were selected in 2022 to pilot the survey methodology, and using data collected through the pilot, AACN will provide assessments and action reports to each participating school, as well as identify best practices and strategies for student success nationwide. The pilot concludes spring 2023 and findings will be shared later in the year.

“AACN will work to uncover and disseminate the key elements needed to create diverse, equitable, and inclusive spaces where all students of color feel supported and valued as they prepare to lead the profession forward,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer.

Johnson & Johnson is proud to support these initiatives, as advocating for and supporting nursing student success, leadership and diversity enables better patient care. Click here to learn how Johnson & Johnson is committed to diversifying and strengthening the nursing workforce.

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