The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Network (DEILN) named Frontier Nursing University Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dr. Paula Alexander-Delpech, Ph.D., PMHNP-BC, APRN, as the network’s Chair-Elect.
DEILN is a convening body to unite expertise, experience, and guidance for academic nursing in Leading Across Differences. This network collectively explores innovative approaches to enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic nursing and the nursing workforce.
DEILN supports the efforts of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and its more than 865 nursing schools and academic nursing at the local, regional, and national levels to advance diversity and inclusion.
These efforts include, but are not limited to:
Sharing evidence-based promising practices
Engaging with the membership
Providing consultative services
Convening networking forums
“I am honored to have been chosen as the Chair-Elect of DEILN,” says Dr. Alexander-Delpech. “This presents a wonderful collaborative opportunity for all members of DEILN and the institutions we represent to share our knowledge and experience to improve the effectiveness of our collective DEI efforts across the country.”
The goal of DEILN is to align its efforts with the strategic diversity goals and objectives of AACN and the larger nursing community. Membership in DEILN is open to all faculty, deans, and staff interested in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.
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 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 (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.”
Changes have occurred since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to improve the treatment of Black people; however, the underpinnings of systemic and structural racism are alive and well in the United States. Through the inequitable outcomes of the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020 bestowed upon us an undeniable reality check on the national impact of systemic and structural racism in our healthcare delivery system. As of March 17, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (2021) reported 533,057 COVID deaths in the U.S., 289,119 of which were reported by race. Of those 289,119 deaths in which the race was known, 14% of the victims were identified as Black, non-Hispanic. Although underrepresented in the U.S., Black people disproportionately led the death toll rates as they suffer from existing socioeconomic hardships in addition to the adversities brought on by the pandemic.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has shone a light on the health disparities and inequalities that people of color suffer from daily. The lack of trust for the COVID-19 vaccine embodied within the Black community due to historical and current medical negligence and bias provided by a vastly white population of healthcare professionals compounds this problem. In November 2020, a survey conducted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) revealed that only 14 percent of Black respondents trusted the vaccine and only 18 percent indicated that they would definitely get vaccinated.
Health care disparities extend beyond the pandemic, however. For example, according to 2017 data from the CDC, Black women are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy complications than white women. Contributing factors to these disparities are financial, bureaucratic, transportation, language barriers, and care that is not consistently culturally appropriate or respectful.
To abate these tragic, disproportionate outcomes and build trust within the U.S. health care delivery system, the healthcare workforce must become more diverse. Our nation’s population is continuously changing and becoming more diverse. The healthcare workforce must change to match. The United States Census Bureau predicts that by 2045, over half of the U.S. population will consist of minority populations. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) stated, “with projections pointing to minority populations becoming the majority, professional nurses must demonstrate a sensitivity to and understanding of a variety of cultures to provide high-quality care across settings.”
Culturally congruent health care providers representing racial, ethnic minority populations improve trust in the health care delivery system, quality of care, and outcomes of minority populations. A 2017 report by the National Institutes of Health determined that cultural respect was an essential factor in reducing healthcare disparities and improving access to quality health care for diverse patients. According to data from the National League of Nursing and the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 80% of registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse-midwives are white. Schools of nursing must also develop strategies for increasing diversity within the nursing workforce.
An example of this shift can be found at Frontier Nursing University, which, over the past decade, has placed an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), with a particular focus on increasing the enrollment and graduation rates of students of color. FNU included DEI in its strategic plan to address issues surrounding access to health care, health outcomes, health disparities, health inequities, and to increase diversity in nursing. These efforts will play a significant role in ameliorating health disparities and inequities. FNU’s SOC enrollment has grown from 9% in 2010 to over 25% in 2020. FNU is continuing on the trajectory of integrating DEI and antiracism throughout the university to support racial, ethnic underrepresented students. Resilience during the COVID-19 Pandemic permitted FNU to graduate 841 students, including 208 students of color, yielding an increased workforce diversity to care for diverse, rural, underserved populations. Additionally, FNU’s current retention rate for SOC is 84%, exceeding the university’s goal of 80%, and the number of faculty of color is on the rise, currently standing at 14%.
FNU is an example of the intentional focus required to begin building a more diverse, culturally competent health care system. We have known and understood for a while now that the lack of diversity among primary health care providers was a contributing factor to the glaring disparities in health care outcomes among diverse populations. The past year only acted to exacerbate the problem and heighten our awareness of the need for immediate change and action. If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it is that diversity, equity, and inclusion are the keys to the future success of our nation’s health care delivery system.
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