Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Rekha Daniel-Kimani

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Rekha Daniel-Kimani

Rekha Daniel-Kimani heads Total Rewards, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Strategic Human Resources Growth of BAYADA Home Health Care. Daniel-Kimani joined BAYADA in 2017 as director of benefits and compensation, and then in January 2022, Daniel-Kimani became head of total rewards, DEI, and HR strategy to ensure employees are effectively compensated and recognized and to help both current and prospective employees find their unique connection to BAYADA’s mission and values.

Daniel-Kimani is a certified diversity executive with professional certificates in compensation, benefits, human resources, and global remuneration. She earned her bachelor’s degree in commerce from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Rekha Daniel-Kimani is an important leader in nursing diversity, and we’re pleased to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2023.

The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.


Meet Rekha Daniel-Kimani, the head of Total Rewards, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Strategic Human Resources Growth of BAYADA Home Health Care.

Talk about your role at BAYADA Home Health Care.

My role at BAYADA is head of total rewards, diversity, equity and inclusion, and strategic human resources growth. While the title is long, the purpose is simple: I care for our greatest asset—our talent. I help make sure our clinicians and caretakers who care for millions of clients worldwide feel that they are personally connected to our mission and values, that they experience a sense of inclusion and belonging, and that they are compensated fairly.

How long have you worked in this field?

I have worked in various HR roles for more than 23 years and have spent six years in healthcare.

How do you support nurses in your role?

Without our clinicians and caregivers, we wouldn’t be able to execute our mission—to help people have a safe home life with comfort, independence, and dignity. They are our largest employee population at BAYADA. I make sure to have a pulse on what they are looking for from a rewards perspective. Expectations have changed with the staffing shortages facing the industry and COVID. I want to understand the needs of different nursing populations and bring a well-rounded global perspective to meeting the needs of our nurses and caregivers.

Why did you choose this field? 

I’m privileged to have fallen into the home health care industry. I love this industry, and I love what I do. When I began to learn more about BAYADA, I discovered a personal connection: my family had utilized BAYADA to care for my niece. Over the last six years, I’ve had the opportunity to showcase the vital work BAYADA does. I’m continually floored by our nurses and caregivers and their incredible impact on our clients and their families. I cannot imagine doing anything else.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders? 

The core values of The BAYADA way—compassion, excellence, and reliability—embody the most essential attributes of today’s nursing leaders. Every home health nurse is a leader each time they walk through the door of a client’s home. They handle the entire client experience, from making the family feel at ease to caring for the client to mapping out a care plan. They are constantly challenged with innovating and responding to the demands of a given moment. That is leadership.

What does being a healthcare leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

Being a healthcare leader means listening closely to understand the intricacies of a challenge, thinking up out-of-the-box solutions, and asking for the expert advice of colleagues. At BAYADA, we don’t hesitate to ask for help or seek opportunities to improve.

I am most proud of our continued progression around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at BAYADA. It’s authentic and grassroots; it’s woven into the experiences of our employees, who play a crucial role in shaping our DEIB program. We regularly solicit employee feedback and act on it. One example is infusing DEIB education into our “White Shoes, White Cap” program. This one-day symposium brings together caregivers and clinicians within a region to network, share best practices, and support one another.

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

I started my career as an HR intern and have worked my way across and up the career ladder in pharmaceuticals, energy, consumer goods, financial services, and higher education. My experience in pharmaceuticals gave me my first look into health care and how it touches our lives in many ways. Over the last six years at BAYADA, I have fallen in love with home health care. I see daily how our nurses positively affect the lives of others. It’s a privilege to support them.

What is the most significant challenge facing nurses today?

As a human resources professional supporting nurses, the most significant challenge I see our caregivers face is finding a balance between their personal lives and a job they love that demands their all. In addition, we’re experiencing an ongoing and significant nursing shortage.

As a leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

It’s critical to model the behavior you want to see in your employees. You must continuously listen and improve as needs and expectations evolve over time and across nursing and client populations. We must look strategically at the root causes of the nursing shortage and start solving it holistically.

What healthcare leader inspires you the most and why?

I am inspired by the many heroes here at BAYADA who serve our clients daily with compassion, excellence, and reliability. Their dedication to improving our clients’ lives is fuel for me to show up and do my best to make them feel cared for and supported.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

Thank you for following your passion and heart. I understand you may not always be shown the appreciation you deserve, but I hope you know how valued you are—your impact is profound. Your kindness, the extra moment you take to laugh and smile with your patients, has a positive effect that cannot be quantified. While you may feel unsure, you are building an enduring legacy.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 

Give a moment to thank a nurse—tell them they are appreciated!

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shauna Johnson

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shauna Johnson

Shauna Johnson is a registered nurse at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center (LHAAMC) in Annapolis, Maryland, and exemplifies the meaning of resilience.

She worked as a tech for LHAAMC more than ten years ago, but then life got in the way. After her mom died of breast cancer, she had to take care of her two brothers (who were 7 and 13 at the time). Eventually, Johnson went to nursing school and got her degree in May 2022. During her last semester, she gave birth and got COVID. At nursing school, Johnson fell in love with working with geriatric patients; now, she works in Luminis Health’s Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit.

Someone at school believed in Johnson so much that they privately funded her education.

She credits Christine Frost, the chief nursing officer at Luminis Health, for being a significant influence in her life. When Johnson first worked at LHAAMC 11 years ago, Frost was her supervisor, providing Johnson with guidance and mentorship.

Shauna Johnson is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2023.

The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.


Meet Shauna Johnson, a Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center (LHAAMC) registered nurse.

Talk about your role in nursing.

As a registered nurse at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center, I provide optimal care to patients and the community. I love advocating for patients and helping them feel comfortable with their care. As a nurse, I am responsible for assessing, observing, and communicating well with patients. I collaborate with a team of medical professionals to ensure every patient receives the care they deserve.

How long have you worked in the nursing field?

I have worked in the nursing field for 15 years. I started as a patient care technician for 14 years and then earned my BSN and RN.

Why did you become a nurse? 

My inspiration to become a nurse started with a nurse who cared for my mom during her last hours of life. It was such a difficult time in my life that I can’t remember much except for this nurse who had so much compassion, love, and dedication. It showed in everything that he did. When I was only 19, I knew I wanted to be the same for others. I made it my mission to be a great nurse to patients, families, and the community.

What sparked your love for working with geriatric patients?

My love for geriatric patients came from my first job in the nursing field as a geriatric nursing assistant. From then on, I respected geriatric patients more and more. Geriatric patients demonstrate incredible strength on a daily basis. Despite a complex medical history, they never give up. Their will and determination to thrive in life are inspiring, and as a nurse, I want to assist in making life worth every moment.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders?

Flexibility, love, passion, dedication, and resilience.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

It means being a role model to other nurses and the community, even when off-duty. Despite my challenges, I am proud that I pushed through and achieved my goal of becoming a nurse. I demonstrate my passion for nursing every single day.

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

My first year in nursing was as a nursing assistant in a rehabilitation facility. After that, I worked as a patient care technician (PCT) in the Medical Surgical Unit for ten years. Then, I shifted from working with just adults to the Mother/Baby unit as a PCT, where I remained throughout nursing school. After graduating with my BSN, I wanted to work with adults again, specifically geriatric patients. I never gave up and never wanted to be a PCT forever. I kept pushing myself to grow and achieve my goals.

I chose to work at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center (LHAAMC) because it is home. Everyone is supportive, loving and caring. The care that Luminis Health provides to the community is outstanding, and this team of caregivers truly exemplifies our mission of enhancing the health of the people and communities we serve.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

The most significant challenge in nursing today is maintaining a healthy work environment. Focusing on mental health and preventing nurse burnout is essential. Our country experienced a historic pandemic, and healthcare workers are still experiencing the residual effects of COVID and how it impacted nursing care. As nurses, we must take care of ourselves to ensure that we can provide optimal care to others.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

Mindfulness is key! That means being mindful, recognizing the importance of self-care, and creating a work environment where others can open up about hardships and mental health issues.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

My former Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), Christine Frost, was my supervisor for seven years and a source of inspiration for 14 years. I watched her ascend to her new role as CNO at LHAAMC and remain passionate about nursing and its core values.


Shauna Johnson with the nursing leader that inspires her the most – Christine Frost, the chief nursing officer at Luminis Health

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

The next generation of nurses should focus on showing passion and empathy rather than mastering every skill. Creating a safe environment for patients to open up and communicate with you about their health gives you so much knowledge on helping to develop the best treatment plan. Listen and assess!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Nursing is not just a career but a lifestyle. I am constantly thinking and performing as a nurse. There are many avenues in nursing and plenty of room for everyone with a heart. Nursing ROCKS!

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shelise Valentine

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shelise Valentine

Shelise Valentine, RNC, MSN, C-EFM, CPPS, CPHRM, is the Director of Clinical Education, Healthcare Risk Advisors, part of TDC Group and chairs nursing, co-chairs obstetric and simulation initiatives, and directs risk management and obstetric education for insured hospital clients to improve patient safety and reduce malpractice risk.

Valentine lectures about patient safety, obstetrical safety, and risk management initiatives. She’s active in various organizations, including the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Better Maternal Outcomes Rapid Improvement Network, and MomsRising. Recently, she presented “Shouldering the Responsibility: Implementation of a Collaborative Shoulder Dystocia Initiative” with her colleagues at the 2022 ASHRM Annual

Shelise Valentine is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2023.

The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.

Meet Shelise Valentine, the Director of Clinical Education at Healthcare Risk Advisors.

Talk about your role in nursing.

I am the Director of Clinical Education at Healthcare Risk Advisors, part of TDC Group. In this role, I chair OB nursing initiatives, co-chair obstetric and simulation initiatives, and direct risk management and obstetric education for insured hospital clients to improve patient safety and reduce malpractice risk.

How long have you worked in the nursing field? 

I have been a nurse for 26 years.

Why did you become a nurse? 

I wanted to support women as they brought life into the world. My passion was to become a Certified Nurse Midwife and deliver babies.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders? 

Dynamism, cultural competence, and excellence are among the top attributes of today’s nursing leaders. Nursing is dynamic as patients, acuity, staffing, and medical best practices constantly change. Nurse leaders need to enact new paths for patient safety and the growth of the nurses they lead and not solely react in the moment that a situation occurs. Cultural competence enables nurse leaders to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse patient and nursing population with compassion and respect. Excellence in knowledge, communication, quality, and safety—no matter the realm, the focus should be excellence. This will serve as a model for the nurses you lead, and they will also expect excellence in the quality of care they deliver.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

Being a nursing leader means ensuring that the nurses I lead understand and are prepared to be the last defense between harm and the patient. When that new graduate nurse or nurse with 25 years of experience encounters something difficult, personally or technically, they have the tools to address and overcome it and provide the best nursing care to the patient in need.

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

I knew that I needed a strong nursing background if I was going to manage patients independently, so I decided to work for two years in critical care before going to the L&D Nurse Manager every week and asking her if I had enough experience yet to be hired as an L&D nurse. And finally, one day, she said I did!

This was at a Level 4 acute care hospital, and I was exposed to many complicated, high-risk patients and pregnancies. I became a women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP), but through this exposure, I realized it was the high-risk, high-adrenaline environment of the hospital, the labor and delivery suite, and the OR that I wanted to make an impact.

I continued my work as an L&D nurse and taught at an accelerated BSN program. I was recruited to become an assistant nurse manager and hospital-wide nurse education manager. I was comfortable and confident in communicating with physicians and had opportunities to improve patient care, so I was asked to be the Patient Safety Officer in Obstetrics. In this role, I was half of the MD/RN dyad, working with the Medical Director of OB, and I provided the following:

  • Real-time support for nurses and physicians on L&D.
  • Advising on policy formation.
  • Reviews of root cause analysis.
  • The inception of best practices.

The affiliated malpractice insurance carrier asked me to join as Director of Nursing to reduce risk, and today, I am the Director of Clinical Education for physicians and nurses for our hospital clients.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

Staffing. Short staffing affects the ability to provide the best care imaginable and deters current nurses from remaining staff nurses in the hospital setting and new nurses from entering the field. Many nursing schools have waiting lists to attend. Still, unfortunately, our national nursing shortage has not improved because nurses start, but their reality may need to mesh with what they envisioned the nurse role to be. The many comorbidities patients now have, lack of ancillary support, and more attractive opportunities in advanced practice are significant challenges facing nursing today.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

I am passionate about nursing and nursing education, and I convey that passion, excitement, and the possibilities to the nurses I interact with. I work to make nursing care in the hospital safer, more efficient, and lower risk by improving policies, workflow, and documentation practices. I also coach team communication, which has been shown to affect patient outcomes and nurse/physician satisfaction.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

Every nurse who showed up to the hospital and provided patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic is an inspiring nurse leader to me. Sacrificing their health for the greater good of their patients, unit, and team will inspire everyone from today’s new student nurse to those at the highest level of nursing leadership for years to come.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?      

Be the change that you wish to see; if there are disparities in care—based on gender, age, ethnicity, etc.—speak up and work to implement changes that recognize and decrease these disparities.

Vanderbilt Nursing Professor Receives $3.6M to Study Telemedicine and Post-intensive Care Syndrome Recovery

Vanderbilt Nursing Professor Receives $3.6M to Study Telemedicine and Post-intensive Care Syndrome Recovery

Vanderbilt School of Nursing Assistant Professor Leanne Boehm, PhD, RN, FCCM, received an R01 grant of more than $3.6 million over five years to examine, with her collaborators, the efficacy of telemedicine services among people recovering from post-intensive care syndrome. This effort, funded by the National Institute on Aging, is the first PICS longitudinal cognitive impairment intervention study.

The Vanderbilt-led study will build on the burgeoning national effort to unite ICU clinicians and primary care providers in providing comprehensive care for patients starting when they are discharged from the ICU and continuing through transitional outpatient care.

“Following ICU discharge, patients have problems lasting months to years that often go unaddressed,” Boehm says. “Primary care providers—and even ICU clinicians taking care of these patients—do not know much about PICS.”

PICS affects up to 80 percent of intensive care unit survivors with a range of cognitive, physical, mental, and socioeconomic impairments—which may result in a poorer quality of life for sufferers and their caregivers. Studies have found that in a broad group of adult ICU survivors in all age groups, 33 percent to 50 percent develop ICU-acquired dementia—a symptom of PICS—which the National Institutes of Health now designates as Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia. The ICU Recovery Center at Vanderbilt and the Critical and Acute Illness Recovery Organization were developed to establish ICU recovery clinics that address PICS.

“Only recently have we started to characterize what PICS assessment and management looks like across ICU recovery clinics,” Boehm says. “We’re seeing so much variation in what clinics are doing. This made us wonder which screening and intervention elements were the most important in ICU recovery clinics.”

To answer these questions, Boehm and her collaborators, including Dr. Carla Sevin, director of the ICU Recovery Center and co-chair of CAIRO’s post-ICU clinic collaborative, and James Jackson, director of behavioral health at the ICU Recovery Center, have developed a telemedicine-based randomized controlled trial to assess how a structured multidisciplinary ICU recovery clinic intervention can help patients and their caregivers live healthier, happier lives. Sevin and Jackson are recognized international leaders in establishing and implementing ICU recovery clinics.

The study’s multidisciplinary intervention will convene a physician and nurse practitioner, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a social worker, and a pharmacist to evaluate patients in the domains affected by PICS—specifically, the cognitive, physical, mental health, and socioeconomic challenges. Caregivers will be assessed for PICS-family and caregiver burden.

The evaluation will result in a care plan tailored to each patient’s needs and shared with their PCP. “Providers will talk with the patient about their assessment, care plan, what they can expect, and the resources to help them in their journey,” Boehm says. “Our team, all familiar with the ICU experience, have a multidisciplinary view of ICU-started problems and serve as a bridge in the transition of care from the ICU to their PCP or specialists. Our primary aim is to see if this intervention can improve cognition, mental health, physical function, social network, and patient activation.”

The choice to make this a study of telemedicine services was considered intentional. “ICU recovery clinics tend to be at major metropolitan academic medical centers, with limited services for patients in rural settings or those with new or worsening disability,” Boehm says. “Telemedicine helps address targeted access and availability gaps in PICS assessment and management.”

The pandemic made the study’s virtual component possible by rapidly adjusting and adopting digital services. A pilot study conducted by Boehm confirmed that patients, providers, and caregiver groups could engage in telemedicine and were willing to accept care through online platforms. The pilot study also informed best practices for efficient and supportive telemedicine ICU recovery clinic assessments; mental health and socioeconomic discussions will be conducted privately, and broader physical health discussions will be with the full group of providers.

Boehm’s other collaborators include Dr. Nathan Brummel, a former clinical fellow in Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine at Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Marianna LaNoue, professor of nursing, and Joanna Stollings, a medical intensive care unit clinical pharmacy specialist at VUMC.

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Stacey Garnett

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Stacey Garnett

Stacey Garnett, MSN, RN, PMH-BC, NEA-BC, FACHE, is the vice president and chief nursing officer at Sheppard Pratt, the nation’s largest private, nonprofit provider of mental health services. In the fast-paced and ever-evolving behavioral healthcare field, nursing leaders are crucial in ensuring efficient operations, a supportive work environment for nurses, and providing quality patient care.

Among these dedicated professionals, Garnett stands out as an exceptional leader whose unwavering commitment to serving people in crisis has made a significant impact on the nursing community. As the demand for behavioral healthcare services increases and burnout and staffing shortages weigh on nurses, she serves as a staunch advocate for patients and nurses alike—she recently received the Maryland Hospital Association’s Advocacy Champion Award for her role in helping to pass SB 960/HB 611, a bill that ensures adequate hospital staffing in Maryland.

As a minority leader with more than 30 years of experience in nursing and nursing administration, Garnett continues to lead and inspire future generations of gifted nurses. Her commitments to nurturing talent and diversifying her industry have not only enhanced the capabilities of individual nurses but have also contributed to the overall strength and competence of behavioral health nurse practitioners throughout the state of Maryland and beyond.

Stacey Garnett is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2023.

The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.


Meet Stacey Garnett, vice president and chief nursing officer at Sheppard Pratt.

Empowering Growth

Garnett recognizes the importance of continuous professional growth and exhibits this in her commitment to teaching and mentoring the next generation of skilled nurses. In addition to leading Sheppard Pratt’s nursing team, she also serves as an educator and mentor. Garnett consistently enables her staff, students, and mentees to use educational and professional development opportunities to foster their growth and advancement.

As a leader who has overcome challenges, Garnett recalls being the only African-American student in her undergraduate nursing program. She now serves as a fierce proponent for diversity in the nursing field, creating opportunities for Sheppard Pratt to partner with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). She hopes that others will see representation in the field and continue to seek advancement opportunities.

Garnett’s success and dedication to excellence inspire her staff, students, and mentees. She understands that high-quality care begins with a personal commitment to perseverance in adversity. In 2019, she mentored a student struggling to pass her exam to become an LPN. After working with Garnett to master the material and conquer her testing anxiety, she passed the test and currently works as an LPN in hospice. Garnett’s tenacity and zeal energize her followers to achieve incredible feats.

Championing Patient-Centered Care

At the core of Garnett’s success throughout her 30-year career is a deeply rooted dedication to patient-centered care. As a motivated and passionate leader, she challenges and inspires her staff to prioritize each patient’s care, dignity, and progress during some of the most vulnerable times in their lives. She emphasizes the importance of building meaningful connections with patients, their families, and their communities. By actively listening to feedback, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, and prioritizing patient satisfaction initiatives, she establishes and maintains a patient-first mindset within Sheppard Pratt’s nursing staff. This holistic approach to patient care makes Sheppard Pratt a distinguished leader in behavioral healthcare and a place where patients can expect to be treated with the utmost care and respect.

Driving Excellence

As a transformational leader with a proven track record of generating and building relationships, managing nursing hospital operations, engaging and collaborating with physicians, and maintaining successful regulatory reviews, Garnett maintains a strong focus on delivering exceptional care. By setting these high standards, she has cultivated an environment encouraging continuous improvement and professional development among Sheppard Pratt’s nursing staff.

Garnett played a fundamental role in the launch of Sheppard Pratt’s new Baltimore/Washington Campus hospital in June 2021. Her colleagues have heralded her ability to think strategically as she responded to issues immediately and directly to open the new hospital to the public in June 2021. Her tenacity and innovation during the inception of the new campus, which offers five inpatient units, day hospital programs, and a Psychiatric Urgent Care, both set and maintained a precedent for a high standard of care across the hospital’s operations.

Collaboration and Communication

Effective communication and collaboration are vital in any healthcare setting, but these factors are critical in behavioral healthcare. Garnett truly has a heart for the patient, frequently interacting with them directly on units. She understands and appreciates that everyone has a journey and a story—by actively listening to the people she serves, she gains insight and perspective into the lives of others to help them overcome life’s most difficult challenges. When patients feel their voices are heard, they feel empowered to share their stories—these stories can reveal crucial information about a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

Garnett fosters a culture of open dialogue and teamwork, where patients, their families, and staff value her as someone with whom they can discuss difficult issues openly, honestly, and without judgment. She actively encourages nurses to voice their ideas, concerns, and suggestions, ensuring that all perspectives are valued and considered. By promoting transparency and maintaining strong lines of communication, Garnett has facilitated a collaborative environment that empowers nurses to work together, resulting in streamlined processes and improved patient care.

Garnett is a beacon of hope for a nation desperately needing passionate and skilled behavioral health nurse practitioners. Her leadership inspires current and future nurses to provide patients with the high-quality care they need and deserve.

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Improves Health Equity, Offers Specialized Training with New HRSA Grant

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Improves Health Equity, Offers Specialized Training with New HRSA Grant

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing has received a four-year, $2.8 million Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Health Workforce grant for a primary care nurse practitioner residency program that will recruit, train, and retain primary care providers with a passion for helping rural and underserved communities. Associate Professor Pam Jones, BSN’81, MSN’92, DNP’13, FAAN, is the grant’s project director, with Associate Professor Christian Ketel, DNP’14, FNAP, serving as primary author and evaluator.

The award builds on a $2.4 million HRSA grant the school received four years ago to develop its Community-Based Nurse Practitioner Fellowship, a postgraduate nurse practitioner/nurse-midwife resident training, hiring, and retention plan for community-based health clinics.

The new grant funds five additional advanced practice nurse fellows—three trained in family or adult gerontology primary care, one trained in psychiatric/mental health, and one trained in nurse-midwifery—to work full-time for one year at a participating community-based health clinic.

The fellows benefit from specialized training in behavioral health and psychopharmacology, maternal health, cultural competency, and mitigating issues caused by social determinants of health. They also learn from clinical immersion experiences, mentoring, collaboration with other providers, and providing evidence-based treatments for rural or medically underserved clinics.

Nationally, many new providers based in clinics serving rural or underserved populations become overwhelmed and leave their positions within the first few years. The CBNP Fellows effort is poised to tackle that issue and help new practitioners build confidence and resilience and increase job satisfaction so they continue to practice in communities where they are most needed.

“This program provides, in partnership with our community agencies, a gradual and structured onboarding and an educational program that gives the new provider additional knowledge and ongoing support from the grant team,” Jones explains.

The fellowship will increase access to primary care nurse practitioners for general physical health issues. Behavioral health assistance will be offered as part of holistic primary care and support for people with psychiatric conditions that often aggravate other health conditions. Certified nurse-midwives will promote maternal health through patient education and increased access to providers.

“Chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and depression, contribute significantly to healthcare costs and affect six out of ten adults, with multiple chronic conditions being common,” Ketel says. “Risk factors such as tobacco use, poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, and alcohol consumption exacerbate the situation.”

This program is a part of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing’s programs and educational opportunities that focus on community needs and health equity, helping people overcome disparities to live healthy lives.

“VUSN has a long history of developing and managing nurse-managed practices with APRNs and programs that meet the needs of underserved populations,” says Jones, who has seen the good these types of programs can do and how much they are needed. “In my former role as a chief nursing officer, I saw the profound impact of the lack of appropriate primary care in our underserved communities.”

Ketel continued, “Underserved populations often face significant healthcare disparities, including limited access to quality care and higher rates of chronic diseases. By supporting this program, Vanderbilt School of Nursing demonstrates its commitment to addressing healthcare disparities, working towards health equity, and producing culturally sensitive healthcare providers.”

The program seeks new nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives within 18 months of graduation. After a screening process through the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, applicants may be chosen to interview with a partner community-based health clinic, where those hired will become full-time employees for one year under the supervision of a mentor. They will also have access to continuing education opportunities, monthly conferences, and support/coaching from the School of Nursing faculty.

Tennessee Community-Based Health Clinics affiliated with the program include Hardeman County Community Health Center in Bolivar and Neighborhood HealthVanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt Primary Care West End, and Vanderbilt Midwives Melrose in Nashville.

The School of Nursing team includes Jones, Ketel, Instructor Tonya Elkins, and Associate Professor of Nursing Natasha McClure, DNP, MSN’11. For more information, visit

As an innovative program created to collaborate with community partners and support healthcare needs, the Community-Based Nurse Practitioner Fellowship is one way the School of Nursing supports Vanderbilt’s Dare to Grow philosophy, and it supports the passion Vanderbilt nursing faculty and staff have for helping others.