1. Kritz, Fran


The goal is to recruit and retain minority students and promote cultural sensitivity.


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Last fall, Rolanda Johnson became assistant dean for diversity and inclusion at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tennessee. Coretta Jenerette has taken on similar responsibilities at the University of South Carolina College of Nursing in Columbia. Their appointments put both nurses and their schools at the forefront of a growing academic effort to improve diversity and cultural competence in the nursing workforce.

Figure. Rolanda John... - Click to enlarge in new window Rolanda Johnson, PhD, MSN, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. Photo by Keith Wood / VUSN.

Johnson and Jenerette say diversity directors have already contributed to improvements in nursing education, including


* increased diversity among nursing students and nursing school staff through recruitment and retention efforts.


* the introduction of theory and tools for cultural competence into classroom curricula and training.


* more advanced practice nurses who are proficient in providing appropriate and culturally sensitive care to diverse patient populations.


* better preparation of nursing students to respond to the needs of new immigrants who, because of language and cultural barriers, may have trouble communicating their symptoms as well as their fears.



G. Rumay Alexander, president of the National League for Nursing and chief diversity officer and associate vice chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, believes that greater diversity among nursing school faculty is important to demonstrate to students that "intelligence and quality have no race, class, gender, sexuality, age, or body size as a requirement."


Vanderbilt's Johnson adds that the next generation of nurses are the best test of whether these ongoing efforts to improve nursing education have succeeded. "We'll know when nursing schools get positive feedback from employers and students who say the training has enabled nurses to provide care to anyone regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, and identity," she said.-Fran Kritz