NCNA Releases Racial Reckoning Statement and Commits to Increased Inclusivity

NCNA Releases Racial Reckoning Statement and Commits to Increased Inclusivity

The North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) has spent the past year embarking on a multipronged initiative of self-reflection, intentional listening, and planning a more inclusive version of Nursing Forward. The methodical process culminated in a Racial Reckoning Statement approved by NCNA’s Board of Directors in September.

The statement acknowledges NCNA’s history, apologizes for its past actions, and commits to relentlessly holding itself accountable as a more inclusive association in the future. This represents the first such initiative from any state nurses association.

“NCNA is committed to recognizing where we have fallen short in the past to ensure we do better going forward,” says NCNA President Trish Richardson, MSN, BSBA, RN, NE-BC, CMSRN. “We have been intentional about the process and making sure this isn’t simply ‘checking a box.’ The Racial Reckoning Statement is a vital milestone for the association, but it is not the end of the conversation.”

NCNA convened a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Values Task Force, charged with developing a values statement, and is appointing a new member of the Board of Directors with past experience with DEI programs. Meanwhile, NCNA worked to educate its members about the association’s history of racism, highlighted by a three-part series in the Tar Heel Nurse membership magazine that was spearheaded by NCNA member and nursing historian Dr. Phoebe Pollitt, RN. Her research shed light on overtly racist actions by the association and its leaders and a decades-long pattern of resistance to integration and inclusivity within NCNA leadership.

The combined efforts stem from NCNA’s newest strategic priority of “Relentless Inclusion,” first championed in 2022 by Immediate Past President Meka D. Ingram, DNP, MSN, RN, NE-BC. The association has implemented strategies and tactics by the American Nurses Association and the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing. Still, NCNA intentionally made this initiative a stand-alone effort that was developed independently, focusing on North Carolina-specific goals and outcomes.

“Many of the results from this initiative have been disheartening to confront, but I am proud of what we have achieved and optimistic about the real changes NCNA is implementing,” says Ingram. “I am encouraged by my colleagues from across North Carolina who have approached this with the seriousness it deserves and, in some cases, had their minds changed about why this type of work is incredibly important.”

NCNA solicited feedback during the Statewide Membership Forum at its Annual Convention and via member surveys conducted through October 15 to help determine the next steps. Feedback overwhelmingly supports the Racial Reckoning Statement and the overarching initiative. Some anonymous quotes from NCNA members include:

  • “A humbling document to read, pierced by a ray of hope that the document was finally penned and unabashedly shared with all NCNA members. Nursing Forward.”
  • “Well written. I think it should also have some language around each individual holding themselves accountable for correcting and preventing the continuation of these wrongs but also hold other nurses accountable not to allow racist behaviors to continue and prevail.”
  • “Include all minorities, not just African/black Americans.”
  • “I accept the acknowledgment of racism in the nursing profession, which has been an issue in North Carolina and a national issue. I have been a victim of racism throughout my years as a registered nurse, but I did not allow it to deter me. Yes, I have experienced some bitter and ugly situations. I never allowed racism to control my attitude toward my peers or patients. However, racism did raise its ugly head. I aspired to be the best registered nurse and advance to a higher level of nursing academics. From this time and toward the future, let us move forward with professionalism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
  • “I support this change but am disappointed that NCNA waited until 2022 to speak up.”
  • “It is admirable that the NCNA would take this opportunity to reconcile the past and present. We cannot go back and change what happened; however, acknowledging the past is huge, even when it is uncomfortable and not the most popular thing to do. I am proud of this action and think this is a great step in moving nursing forward.”

This initiative has been challenging and, at times, painful. NCNA’s Board of Directors also believes it has been well worth the effort and hopes it serves as a catalyst for other nursing and healthcare organizations to be similarly introspective and join NCNA in committing to a more inclusive future for the entire profession.

From Foster Child to DEI Consultant, Professor, and Mentor: Meet Dr. Sharrica Miller

From Foster Child to DEI Consultant, Professor, and Mentor: Meet Dr. Sharrica Miller

Many nurses often decide to work in the profession due to their struggles in life, but few are willing to make a difference in their work based on their hardships.

Dr. Sharrica Miller, PhD, RN, has used her voice to speak up against injustice against Black nurses. She’s an assistant professor at Cal State Fullerton, where she serves as chair of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Student Engagement. Miller also owns her consulting firm and works with organizations to implement diversity initiatives.from-foster-child-to-dei-consultant-professor-and-mentor-meet-dr-sharrica-miller

Miller took the time to answer our questions about her nursing experience and how her beginnings as a foster child inspired her DEI work.

Can you give a brief introduction about yourself?

My life’s journey has been unique and full of challenges. After spending 12 tumultuous years in foster care and emancipating from my last placement in Compton, California, I went to Howard University, where I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Let me tell you, it was a struggle! I lacked the academic and social skills to thrive and was lost and overwhelmed when I arrived. 

After graduating, I worked bedside for over a decade in various specialties, including pediatrics, critical care, and home health. During that time, I obtained my master’s degree in nursing and most recently graduated from UCLA with my PhD in 2017.

What made you decide to become involved in nursing? Did your upbringing influence your decision to become a nurse?

I needed to make money in foster care to pay for school expenses, so I became a certified nursing assistant at 16. I was still unsure about my future until a family tragedy changed the course of my life. My father was involved in a drive-by shooting my senior year, just a few weeks before I was set to leave for Howard. I’ll never forget the compassionate care the nurses provided to my dad and my family, and from that moment on, I knew that would be my path moving forward. 

How does your experience in healthcare influence your roles as a DEI consultant and assistant professor at CSU advocating for inclusive nursing environments?

My first job was in Long Beach in a pediatric rehab center, and I worked with many adolescents who were gang-violent victims. I had the opportunity to work at UCLA as a new grad, but I wanted to be in my community caring for patients who looked like me.

What makes nursing special is that we look holistically at the person in front of us and consider all the circumstances that led them to our care. Thus, having firsthand experience working with diverse patient populations has made me a more experienced DEI strategist and consultant because I learned early on always to remember the person behind the patient.

How have you been able to give back to the foster community? How do you feel when you know you’ve helped them achieve their future goals despite barriers?

Sitting in foster homes as a child, I made big plans about what to do when I grew up and have tried to live up to those goals. My work in the child welfare system has centered on transitional-age foster youth. These young adults between 18 and 26 are emancipating from foster care.

The transition to adulthood is difficult for anyone, but foster youth especially need more skills and resources to navigate the world successfully. I give back to the community by facilitating workshops for child welfare professionals to teach them how to better engage with this population and also by serving as a mentor. It’s a full circle moment when I see my youth succeed. I hope the little girl who made all those plans is proud of me.

What do you value most about your work for diverse nurses?

I value the look on Black nurses’ faces when they finally feel seen. These nurses are on the frontline dealing with discrimination and retaliatory behavior in the workplace, and now they finally see someone calling it out.

What advice would you give younger adults struggling in nursing school or the workplace due to past trauma or microaggressions they’ve experienced? 

I would tell them you are the most important person in your life’s journey. You have to affirm, support, and believe in yourself. We tend to go through life looking outward for the answers, but overcoming trauma means getting to know ourselves and building ourselves up. 

Dealing with microaggressions requires a different skill set rooted in emotional intelligence. Sadly, many Black professionals, particularly Black women, have to decide if they will stay low or fight for what they believe in. Both have potentially adverse consequences; one hurts our souls, while the other hurts our careers.

My best advice is practical. Build your expertise in various areas and develop multiple income streams to handle a particular employment situation. If you find yourself stuck in a toxic workplace environment, be ready to pivot to the next opportunity. 

To learn more about Miller’s work, read her book on the life lessons she learned in foster care or follow her on Instagram at DocMillerSpeaks.

Rolanda Johnson Receives EDI Award from Vanderbilt University

Rolanda Johnson Receives EDI Award from Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Rolanda Johnson, PhD’98, received the Vanderbilt University Joseph A. Johnson Jr. Distinguished Leadership Professor Award at the university’s Spring Faculty Assembly.

The award recognizes a faculty member who has proactively nurtured an academic environment where everyone feels valued and where diversity is celebrated. It is named for Joseph A. Johnson Jr., the first African American to earn a Vanderbilt bachelor’s degree and the first to earn a doctoral degree.rolanda-johnson-receives-edi-award-from-vanderbilt-university

In recognizing Rolanda Johnson with the award, Vanderbilt University Chancellor Daniel Diermeier says, “Rolanda’s experiences in nursing — as a clinician, educator, researcher, and administrator — inspired her to make a difference in the lives of those who experience health disparities and inequities and are often overlooked. Her passion is educating nurses to better meet the healthcare needs of all populations and delivering high-quality, culturally sensitive care to all patients. Among her efforts at the School of Nursing was advocating for holistic admissions, contributing to more diverse enrollment.”

The chancellor concluded that Johnson is creating a path for continued equity, diversity, and inclusion improvement for years to come.

Johnson has positively impacted equity, diversity, and inclusion on regional, national, and international levels. She serves as membership chair for the Tuskegee University National Nursing Alumni Association, was the inaugural chair of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s DEI Leadership Network (DEILN), mentors for the AACN Diversity Leadership Institute, and a member of the American Nurses Association National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing Education Work Group. She co-founded Nashville’s chapter of the National Black Nurses Association. Johnson also served on the U.S. Pharmacopeia Health Equity Advisory Group.

At Vanderbilt School of Nursing, Johnson helps faculty create inclusive curricula and classrooms, offers guidance to student affinity groups, and is exceptionally skilled at recruitment, retention, and inclusion. Her research and scholarship focus on increasing EDI in nursing education and assisting vulnerable populations.

“Most recently, Dr. Johnson co-developed and co-directed the inaugural Vanderbilt Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders, a one-week immersive for nurses who have been in leadership roles for less than five years,” says Pamela R. Jeffries, PhD, FAAN, ANEF, FSSH, dean of Vanderbilt School of Nursing. “This was an amazing week for 18 fellows from academia and healthcare systems all over the country. Many described the program as ’life-changing.’ The academy is well poised to be sustainable and in the long-term, will help to mitigate the diversity disparities evident in nursing leadership.”

Senior Associate Dean for Academics Mavis Schorn, PhD, FACNM, FNAP, FAAN, nominated Johnson for the leadership award. “She has advanced equity, diversity, and inclusivity by developing a strategic plan focusing on both recruitment of diverse individuals while also creating a welcoming environment where everyone feels like they belong,” Schorn wrote. “She led the efforts to create a diversity statement for the school and later led efforts to update it to include antiracism language. She has worked with all the admission committees to ensure the admission process is holistic.”

Johnson will carry the Joseph A. Johnson, Jr. Distinguished Leadership Professor title for one year.

“This award was a wonderful surprise,” she says. “I am humbled to receive this honor. While I am the honoree, the VUSN family deserves accolades for ‘WE’ have accomplished much and will continue to be leaders in diversity, equity, and inclusion in nursing and healthcare.”

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. 

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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 https://frontier.edu/diversity-impact/.

“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 MinorityNurse.com and NursingDiversity.com and we celebrate their efforts and dedication to diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Frontier Nursing University Names Dr. Paula Alexander-Delpech Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Frontier Nursing University Names Dr. Paula Alexander-Delpech Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Frontier Nursing University (FNU) named Dr. Paula Alexander-Delpech, Ph.D., PMHNP-BC, APRN, as its Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO).

Previously, Dr. Alexander-Delpech served as the Interim CDIO since January and guided the planning and programming for FNU’s 12th annual Diversity Impact Conference held in June.

Dr. Alexander-Delpech serves as co-chair of the President’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and the Faculty, Staff, and Preceptor Development and Retention sub-committee of the DEI Task Force.

Performing at the Highest Level

“Dr. Alexander-Delpech has performed at the highest level as our Interim CDIO,” says FNU President Dr. Susan Stone, CNM, DNSc, FAAN, FACNM. “We know she will continue to provide the direction, passion, and leadership necessary to further the essential work of FNU’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She has tremendous energy and has brought forth a number of new initiatives to build upon our existing DEI efforts, which are so important to the future of healthcare.”

Nurse Educator DEI Faculty Fellowship

Dr. Alexander-Delpech presented “The Development of A Faculty DEI Fellows Program” at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Diversity Leadership Institute. Under her leadership, FNU plans to launch a Nurse Educator DEI Faculty Fellowship program this fall. Eight faculty members will be selected as Fellows and will attend a 12-week DEI training and then be assigned at least four more faculty whom they will coach for 12 weeks.

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion oversee the development of five new student interest groups (SIGs), which hold their first meetings in June. The five SIGs are International Students in Nursing, LGBTQIA+ Students in Nursing, Men in Nursing, Military/Veterans in Nursing, and Students of Color in Nursing.

Delivering Equity and Diversity in Healthcare

“It has been a pleasure working with Dr. Alexander-Delpech,” says FNU Dean of Nursing Joan Slager, DNP, CNM, FACNM, FAAN. “She is passionate about creating opportunities for our faculty and our students to grow in their expertise in teaching about and delivering equitable healthcare.”

“I am so honored to accept the role of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Frontier Nursing University,” Dr. Alexander-Delpech says. “We always think about DEI as it pertains to our curriculum or profession, but when people start talking about it in their personal lives, that means people are making changes. The ripple effect is happening. At FNU, we are ahead of the game. When we talk about DEI work, FNU has surpassed a lot of other universities.”

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