Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders draws participants from around the nation

Nov 27, 2023 at 05:46 pm by Staff

By Matt Batcheldor

Nurse leaders from around the country in either clinical practice or academic medicine came together Nov. 13-17 at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN) for the second annual Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders.

The academy, a joint effort of VUSN and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, is a leadership development program for nurses new to health care leadership and academic positions who are from groups historically underrepresented in nursing and/or those who support them. The program is intended to reach nurses who have been in their leadership roles for less than three years, equipping them with the tools to navigate the unique challenges of being leaders with diverse backgrounds.

Mamie Williams, PhD, MPH, APRN, was among the speakers at the academy. (photo by Erin O. Smith)
Mamie Williams, PhD, MPH, APRN, was among the speakers at the academy. (photo by Erin O. Smith)

More than 20 nurse leaders participated in the weeklong program, filled with guest lectures, panels and activities facilitated by leaders from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Each of the participants new to the academy selected a mentor in their home institution and another outside, someone with national presence. A criterion for participation is that the new participant develops and implements a project at his/her home institution.

Last year’s inaugural participants shared their projects, which they have either implemented or are in the process of implementing. Those projects ranged from starting a Women’s Health/Labor & Delivery rapid response team to implementing a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) position, from enhancing diversity and inclusion in the nurse’s home institution to creating a toolkit for graduate nurse success.

“This program has been amazing for me,” said Jazmin Richardson, MSN, RN, PCCN, CCRN-K, NPD-BC, a returning participant who presented at the academy. She is a clinical education specialist at SONIFI Healthcare Technology and a Doctor of Nursing Practice student at University of South Alabama, whose project was “Ready to Practice: A New Graduate Nurse Toolkit for Success.”

Other projects included prewarming patients to prevent intraoperative hypothermia, community building to advance diverse nurse leaders and creating a nurse mentorship program to support diverse nurses.

“I think one of the most beautiful benefits of this is the support that we have for one another as we continue to navigate some challenging times,” said returning participant Kelly McGlothen-Bell, PhD, RN, IBCLC, whose project was “Cultivating an Inclusive Learning Environment to Foster Nursing Education.”

Academy co-director Mamie Williams, PhD, MPH, APRN, senior director of Nursing Diversity and Inclusion at VUMC, said the projects have had a nationwide impact.

“The projects all reflect where we are in health care right now — the need for diverse leadership, to improve our nurse retention and to mentor people,” she said. “It’s amazing to think that we had that response and that impact.”

The impetus for the program was twofold, Williams said. First, evidence shows that nurses from diverse backgrounds lack support they need to succeed in their roles. Second, the program aims to increase the number of diverse leaders by encouraging them to bring others on board as leaders.

Rolanda Johnson, PhD, MSN, RN, associate dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at VUSN, co-directed the academy with Williams. “Following this academy, I know this cohort of emerging diverse leaders will be better equipped to change and improve health care as we know it today,” Johnson said. “Each project resulting from this cohort will be impactful in their individual institutions and hopefully will evolve to sustainable long-term gains for all health care stakeholders. I am elated that VUSN and VUMC are collaborators in this important program.”

Participants said the conference was valuable for offering networking and mentorship opportunities for those underrepresented in health care.

“I realized I was lacking the type of leadership acumen that I needed to take myself to the next level, to be really regarded as more of an expert in my industry,” said Patrice Little, DNP, FNP-BC, a family nurse practitioner and founder of NP Student, who came from suburban Atlanta. “I could no longer run this race alone.”

Another attendee, Shaquita Bonds, DNP, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC, Bachelor of Science in Nursing program director at Tennessee State University, said one of the biggest barriers she has faced as a minority is the lack of mentorship. Her biggest takeaway from the academy is “It’s OK not to be OK, and in order for me to get OK, I need the resources, which is what this is all about, giving me the tools and resources to be successful… and knowing that there are other people out there who are feeling … the same way that I feel.”


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