Vanderbilt’s Academy for Diverse Aspiring Nurse Leaders Set for July

Vanderbilt’s Academy for Diverse Aspiring Nurse Leaders Set for July

Nurses from underrepresented groups in nursing who are interested in leadership are invited to apply for the Academy for Diverse Aspiring Nurse Leaders to be held at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing July 17-19, 2023. The academy is for those with more than three years of nursing experience and not yet in healthcare or academia leadership roles.

The unique leadership development program is led by experienced leaders from diverse backgrounds committed to equipping nurses for future leadership roles. I

The Academy for Diverse Aspiring Nurse Leaders was created by the Vanderbilt School of Nursing and Vanderbilt University Medical Center to serve the needs of nurses from underrepresented groups in nursing leadership and/or those committed to expanding and supporting diversity in nursing leadership.

“If you’re a registered nurse, advanced practice nurse, nurse educator, case manager, or nurse informaticist, this program will help you develop a career plan and toolkit for future leadership roles,” says Mamie Williams, PhD, senior director for nurse diversity and inclusion at VUMC and academy co-director.

The Academy for Diverse Aspiring Nurse Leaders is a companion event to Vanderbilt’s highly successful Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders for nurses who have been in academia or healthcare leadership for less than three years.

“Participants called that program ‘life-changing,’ ‘transformative,’ ‘profound,’ and ‘the most meaningful and impactful thing I have participated in,” says Rolanda Johnson, PhD, VUSN associate dean of equity, diversity and inclusion and academy co-director. “They felt strongly that learning how to be a successful diverse leader at an earlier stage in their careers would have been valuable and suggested the creation of a similar program for nurses who aspire to leadership.”

Spots are limited, so applicants are encouraged to apply by May 31.

Frontier Nursing University Holds Annual Diversity Impact Conference

Frontier Nursing University Holds Annual Diversity Impact Conference

Frontier Nursing University (FNU) is holding its annual Diversity Impact Conference June 8-9. The Diversity Impact Conference brings together renowned thought leaders and speakers to increase awareness of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the healthcare workforce, particularly for those working in underserved and rural communities. 

This year, the conference will be available for attendees outside FNU for the first time.

The 2023 Diversity Impact Conference is via Zoom. This year’s conference theme is “Better Together: Advancing a Culture of Identity and Belonging in Healthcare.” The two-day event will feature keynote presentations from nationally recognized diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders. Additional sessions will include panel discussions, breakout sessions, and time for reflection.

The opening keynote address is by Dr. Tia Brown McNair, Vice President of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers at the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, D.C. 

On the second day of the conference, the keynote speaker will be Rebekka Eshler, National President of the Transgender American Veterans Association in Washington, D.C. 


All speaker bios and the full conference schedule are available here.

The learning outcomes attendees can expect to take away from the Diversity Impact Conference include the following:

  • Identify specific strategies to create a culture of belonging amongst peers and the larger community
  • Discuss the causes behind healthcare disparities and their effect on creating a culture of belonging
  • Reflect on ways to engage in spaces to promote diversity in identity effectively
  • Practice ways to build collaborative communities

Students attending any institution can register for the conference for free. All others can register at the registration price of $99 until the day before the event. For more information about the 2023 Diversity Impact Conference and to register, visit

“We are extremely excited about the 2023 Diversity Impact Conference,” says FNU Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dr. Paula Alexander-Delpech, Ph.D., PMHNP-BC, APRN. “The Conference gets better each and every year, and we are putting the finishing touches on the plan for this year’s sessions. We are most excited, however, about being able to include more attendees this year. As we grow this important event, we want to invite leaders and students from some of our area universities to join us. This event is all about collaboration, learning, and growing. I’m confident that it will benefit any university, department, or individual.”

Nursing Diversity Champions exemplify a commitment to diversity and inclusion across accredited nursing programs and healthcare institutions across the U.S. A select group of colleges, universities, and healthcare institutions across the nation have committed to recruit and retain diverse students, faculty, and clinicians on and and we celebrate their efforts and dedication to diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Last-Minute Advice – Preparing Your Students for the NCLEX

Last-Minute Advice – Preparing Your Students for the NCLEX

May signifies everything we look forward to–time for graduations, pinning ceremonies, vacations, and anticipation for warmer weather; however, for the recent nursing graduate, May also signifies a time for preparation for one of the most important exams they may ever take, NCLEX. Graduates can look forward to taking the NCLEX if they remember PUPS. (More on PUPS below).

As nurse educators, we know that prepping for NCLEX differs from preparing for a classroom exam. For one, the NCLEX is a cumulative exam that focuses on one thing, clinical judgment. Can the student make the best decision for their patient at the bedside?

Secondly, the NCLEX tests integrate processes like safety, infection control, and physiological integrity throughout the test. Its not divided into pharmacology, pediatrics, and management like nursing school courses and tests. It is a comprehensive evaluation of the nursing graduates ability to holistically care for a patient, from basic care and comfort to management of other healthcare staff.

Because of this comprehensive and integrated approach, questions may look different and be perceived as more difficult. Medications and disease processes the student did not learn in class may be tested. For most students, the unknown is a scary concept. However, there are things we can do, even last minute, to prepare our students.

Remember PUPS. If youre like most nurses, we care for humans and animals. Hopefully, PUPS is an easy to remember mnemonic and one with a positive connotation.

Practice NCLEX-style questions

Understand the NCLEX

Practice anti-anxiety techniques

Show up prepared

Practice NCLEX- style Questions

There are studies and literature that state a student must answer 5000 to 10,000 questions to be deemed ready for NCLEX. There are hundreds of websites that students frequent that provide many different numbers. I have seen very specific numbers, from 2800 questions to as low as 500. Quantity matters, but quality matters more.

We must inform our students that practicing NCLEX-like questions is critical to success and where they can find those questions. Please provide them with the names of credible resources and encourage them to practice as many questions as possible.

Practice means answering the questions and remediating them to understand what they do and dont know. Practice does not mean answering question after question but never reviewing the answers and rationales. The question banks students use for preparation should include an opportunity for testing in an NCLEX-like environment and provide a review of answers with rationales. The practice question banks should also have alternate-type questions on NCLEX and be written at the cognitive levels of application and analysis.

Practice means simulating the real testing environment by sitting in a quiet room and answering the questions on the computer while you time yourself. The NCLEX today is 75-145 questions with a five-hour allotment. Encourage your students to take a 75-question minimum test and to take several 145-question tests as well. Practicing a few questions at a time is okay but should be only some of the practice. 

Endurance is important. Most students graduate from nursing school and have never taken more than 100 questions at one time. However, they must practice a 145-question test and note when they get tired or lose concentration to take a break in the real” test. Therefore, a student should never sit for NCLEX without having the benefit of practicing 145-question tests. 

Understand the NCLEX

All students taking the NCLEX should have visited the website many times. They should know the NCLEX blueprint–the definitions of the client need categories tested and at what percentage they are tested. Students want to know what is on the test to feel more comfortable and confident. The NCSBN gives them that information. Maybe not to the specificity the student wants, but it provides much beneficial information, and knowledge is power.

For example, a student must know that physiological adaptation, management of care, and pharmacological and parenteral therapies make up almost 50% of the NCLEX-RN. Therefore, these three areas command more attention than the other five areas of the test plan.  

Students should also watch the videos on the website that explain the testing procedures for check-in and while taking the test. These videos include what you can and cannot bring with you, allowable breaks, accommodation requests, and much more. Knowing what to expect lessens anxiety.

Practice Anti-anxiety Techniques

As mentioned above, one of the reasons students practice questions is to understand their mental and physical endurance. Students should note when they get tired or lose focus while taking a long exam. For some students, thats around 50 questions. For others, its about ten questions. Students need to know this before sitting for NCLEX. When they reach their limit, instruct them to take a mental break. That could mean taking fingers off the keyboard and eyes off the screen, completing a few stretches of the shoulders and neck, or taking a few deep breaths.

A quick note about deep breathing: its not just something to do. Deep breathing better oxygenates your brain, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which aids in calmness. Deep breathing is an important anti-anxiety strategy for us all. 

Other techniques to combat anxiety include getting adequate sleep (which is especially important the night before the test); eating a good meal before the test so that you are not hungry (do not overdo it on carbs or sugar, which can cause sleepiness); proper hydration preferably with water and a bathroom break before the exam; positive talk before and during the exam (You got this!); eating peppermint candy or chewing peppermint gum which can decrease anxiety and possibly increase mental alertness (Ive had several students who swear by peppermint); and the most crucial technique to combat anxiety, is tip #4–show up prepared.

Show Up Prepared 

There is no better technique for success than attending an exam and feeling well-prepared. Know where the testing center is and leave early to give yourself plenty of time for unexpected traffic. Students should double-check with that they have the correct documents to get into the test.

At this point in their preparation, they know the content, the process, and what to expect. There are no surprises because they have used PUPS – practiced thousands of questions, understand how the test works and what is being tested, know how to calm anxiety because they have practiced calming techniques, and are showing up prepared and confident.



Hanson-Zalot, M. , Gerolamo, A. and Ward, J. (2019) The Voices of Graduates: Informing Faculty Practices to Establish Best Practices for Readying NCLEX-RN Applicants. Open Journal of Nursing9, 125-136. doi: 10.4236/ojn.2019.92012.

Celebrating the Work of Student Nurses

Celebrating the Work of Student Nurses

The annual celebration of Student Nurses Day recognizes the hard work and ambition of nurses who are pursuing additional education to help them be the best nurses possible.

Student nurses today face an entirely different world than nurses entering school many years ago did. The global pandemic changed the face of nursing in ways that will take years to understand. Because of their valuable skills and knowledge, student nurses found themselves providing patient care even before they had a degree in hand. And while it was trial by fire for many, student nurses learned skills that will carry through their career lifespan.

As a whole, the nursing industry is constantly changing and evolving, and students are frequently drawn to the profession for those reasons. They enjoy the fast pace and the continual opportunities for lifelong learning. They also see a career where they can make a difference in individual patient’s lives and in their communities. And with rapid developments in medical science, nurses are constantly assessing their skills to improve and provide the best patient care.

And even if their careers haven’t officially begun, student nurses can take steps while in school to ensure optimum career readiness.

Join a Professional Organization

Whether it’s the campus chapter of the National Student Nurses’ Association or a nationwide association like the American Nurses Association, it’s never too early to join a professional organization. Membership helps you learn about the profession and brings you together with other like-minded nurses–everything from the National Black Nurses Association, Inc. or the Association of Pediatric Oncology Nurses to the American Nursing Informatics Association.

Get Experiential Experience

Clinicals give nursing students a broad understanding of different areas of nursing. Through different rotations, they might get glimpses into everything from obstetrics to pediatrics. But if student nurses find a particular interest in one specialty, pursuing more opportunities in that area will help develop additional skills. Gaining more exposure to particular specialties will also help student nurses determine what they like about that area of nursing and if they want to move their career in that direction. Shadow a nurse in a particular area of interest, ask for an informational interview, or volunteer time in a unit if allowed.

Network Everywhere

As student nurses begin to seek additional career opportunities, networking is essential. Nurses are frequently recruited through word of mouth and personal connections, so networking is an important job skill. Professional organizations are a great place to network with other nurses who are both novice and experienced. Connections with fellow student nurses and faculty, colleagues at clinicals, and peers at conferences can provide an excellent entry into a job or role you didn’t know existed.

Show Up

Be the nurse who asks to go to conferences or who is willing to offer a presentation or sit on a panel. Volunteer at a vaccine clinic or a blood drive. Bring together other student nurses to speak at a local high school and tell younger students about nursing and nursing school. Speak up and do the work needed to get your presence known. You’ll gain experience, but you’ll also help educate others or fill a need in the community.

Nursing students shoulder a heavy workload and any other steps they can take now will help them in the future. Celebrate all student nurses do this week!

What it Will Take to Prepare Nurses for Serving Underrepresented Communities

What it Will Take to Prepare Nurses for Serving Underrepresented Communities

Trust between a nurse and their patient is one of the strongest assets a healthcare provider can carry in their repertoire. Unfortunately, social and health discrimination against minority groups around the world makes offering trust more difficult.

Lansing, Mich.-based nurse practitioner Kristal Richardson-Aubrey and her team aim to approach this reality with empathy and understanding.

“When we don’t have an awareness of it, then we tend to play into the issue,” says Aubrey-Richardson, who runs an outpatient clinic and is an alumna of the Michigan State University College of Nursing. “It’s not seen every day, so we think it’s gone. But we still have to understand that they exist, and we should work to eliminate or, at least, decrease some of these disparities.”

Increasingly, nurses and advanced practice registered nurses are receiving the experience and education they need in their nursing programs to address disparities in healthcare and to, thereby, provide this type of holistic care. But there is still a long way to go.

MSU nurse practitioner student Trevor Gabel-Baird, who identifies as a queer man, has experienced a lack of empathy in healthcare and wants to create positive change for all.

“I’ve felt judged for who I am as a person, I wanted to eliminate those barriers that prevent people from being seen, and that stops them from going to their physicians or nurse practitioners,” explains Gabel-Baird.


MSU nurse practitioner student Trevor Gabel-Baird has experienced a lack of empathy in healthcare and wants to create positive change for all

One instance Gabel-Baird could recall was with a charge nurse in a prior role, who misgendered a transgender patient who had ended up in the intensive care unit after they made an attempt on their life.

“It was very off-putting to me to witness my peer and someone I’m supposed to look up to, especially as a brand-new nurse, putting the patient at risk, and that’s what drove me to apply for the nurse practitioner program,” Gabel-Baird says. “I felt healthcare needs more people that can speak to the lived experiences of the LGBTQIA community.”

In the LGBTQIA+ community, more than one in six adults have reported they avoid seeking healthcare due to anticipated discrimination. More than 20 percent of transgender adults reported discrimination in healthcare according to the National Library of Medicine.

Nurses Gaining Access to Varied experiences, Curriculum

“To be a nurse practitioner requires a stronger compassionate trait,” says Dr. Kara Schrader, MSU’s Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program Director. “Nurse practitioners tend to work with marginalized populations, many of which have difficulty with healthcare access. Nurses need to be empathic when it comes to the care we provide.”

Schrader said it is important to identify these disparities early in a nurse’s career. One way to do that is by ensuring students have access to varied experiences and a comprehensive curriculum.

The end game, she said, is that nursing colleges produce students who are prepared for and representative of the communities they serve, whether as a nurse, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, or nurse scientists.

Students like Gabel-Baird and Richardson-Aubrey, are putting that type of education to work.

“We’re able to identify the contributing factors of the medical condition to help the patient be well entirely,” Richardson-Aubrey says. “We’re not just treating them with medicine but treating the other aspects that play into the medical condition.”

Learn more about graduate programs at the MSU College of Nursing.

Trauma: Life in the ER Want to be an Emergency Nurse?

Trauma: Life in the ER Want to be an Emergency Nurse?

As a nursing student, I loved watching the show “Trauma: Life in the ER.” This show was based on real-life medical stories in the ER of various cities such as New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Detroit. As I watched, I said to myself that is what I want to do! I am going to be a Trauma Nurse in the ER.

In my last semester of nursing school, I requested to be in the Emergency Department, and thankfully, I was placed there for my last rotation. Well, that’s where I fell in love with Nursing. The adrenaline, fast-paced environment, and uncertainty of what will happen next kept me on my toes.

One of my clinical instructors asked me what type of nurse I wanted to be, and I told her with excitement, “I want to be an ER nurse,” and she replied, “you will never be an ER nurse.” I was shocked! I thought, wow, how could an educator be so negative and deter me from following my dream? Well, you already know my stubborn head did not listen. Watch me, I thought to myself. I am going to be a badass ER Nurse. I’m going to save lives.

I developed such great relationships during my clinical rotation that they encouraged me to apply! As a result, I got offered the ER position as a new nurse before I graduated or took my nursing boards in Canada. Hey, hey, hey! I was jumping up and down for joy when I got the offer. I got two offers, but I selected the ER with the trauma center.

Moral of the story: “Follow Your Dreams!”

I have worked in various Emergency Departments in Canada and the U.S., including level 1 trauma centers. I worked in the ER at Detroit Receiving Hospital where the show Trauma: Life in the ER was filmed and at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell where NY ER was filmed. I also became a nurse educator and TNCC instructor and taught clinicals as an Adjunct Faculty. I hold the following three board certifications for Emergency Nursing: CEN-Certified Emergency Nurse, CPEN-Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse, and TCRN-Trauma Certified RN.

These certifications can be obtained from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) once you have at least two years of experience in the Emergency Department.

My mission is to empower all nurses, especially new nurses, to follow their passion and dreams. For this reason, I decided to open up my own nurse coaching business in June 2021. I provide 1-1 coaching and group coaching to nurses. I teach you how to confidently land your dream position and be Badass Nurses too.

You, too, can become an Emergency Nurse if you want! IT IS POSSIBLE!

Was I nervous to start? Yes, but you will get a proper orientation and a preceptor to guide you along the way! Think about it, there is always an attending physician there, 24/7, nurses, charge nurses, respiratory therapists, and the list goes on! You are not alone!

5 Tips to Help You on Your Journey to Becoming an Emergency Nurse

  1. Request your last clinical rotation/placement to be in the Emergency Department
  2. If you are a nursing student, get any job in the Emergency Department, such as a Patient Care Tech, EKG Tech, Patient transporter, etc.
  3. Join the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) as a student or a Nurse. (discounted price for students, access to ENA Journal, conferences, and educational content)
  4. Get a nursing mentor and or nursing coach who can guide you along your journey (hint: contact me)
  5. Develop your skills, build your resume, and get any certification:
  • EKG
  • IV
  • NIH Stroke
  • BLS
  • ACLS
  • PALS
  • ENPC
  • TNCC

Good luck on your journey to becoming a badass ER Nurse.