Enhance Scholarship and Education

Two New Awards Recognizing EDI Efforts

VUSN instituted two new awards recognizing EDI efforts. The Diversity Alumni Award, a monetary prize, was created to recognize VUSN’s alumni work in EDI and social justice. Dr. Rumay AlexanderThe VUSN Nursing Alumni Association selected Dr. Rumay Alexander, EdD, RN, FAAN, as the recipient of the inaugural award, which highlights an  alumnus  who has made major contributions in the field of diversity and inclusion. Dr. Alexander is a Scholar-In-Residence at the American Nurses Association where she focuses on addressing the persistent problem of systemic racism in the nursing profession. She also has over 30 years of experience focused on diversity and inclusion and social justice.

Dr. Carol ZieglerThe VUSN Award for Recognition of Faculty Achievement in Social Justice Award was established in 2020 by Dean Emerita Linda Norman. This award recognizes faculty achievement in fostering social justice by advocating for equal rights and opportunities for all people. These efforts may be visible among VUSN faculty, staff and students or in marginalized communities, environments and populations. This year’s recipient is Dr. Carol Ziegler, a professor of nursing within the School of Nursing and a Family Nurse Practitioner at the Meharry Family Clinic. Her current focus is on identifying and mitigating local health impacts related to climate change, educating health care providers and community members about climate change and climate solutions, decreasing the contribution of the health care sector to carbon emissions, and promoting climate reparations for at-risk communities.

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students and Health Care for Underrepresented Areas

The school also sought and received federal funding to expand educational programs that would both support students from disadvantaged populations and which would equip students to serve disadvantaged programs upon graduation.

In 2020, VUSN was awarded a nearly $4 million Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant over 4 years for “Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students.” The grant is being used exclusively for tuition scholarships for students from underrepresented ethnic/racial groups who are economically disadvantaged and enrolled in the family nurse practitioner and/or the nurse-midwifery specialties. VUSN also has received two awards totaling more than $5 million from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to increase the number of nurse practitioners (NP) working in rural and underserved communities where there aren’t enough primary care providers. In response to the growing need for mental health services, both awarded programs will have a psychiatric/mental health component that integrates behavioral health into the primary care setting. These grants allow for additional funding available to enhance pipelines for more diverse cohorts of students.

2020 CAP Program Scholarship recipient Akaninyene Ruffin

Another HRSA funded program involves a federal effort to meet the demands of the increasing need for primary care providers in rural and underserved areas. In response, faculty at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing developed the Collaborative Academic-Practice (CAP) program. Students in this program take advantage of curricular enhancements including competency-based, interactive, innovative learning activities that address social determinants of health, telehealth and behavioral health for primary care. The CAP program enriches and strengthens the capacity of the overall FNP program to graduate nurse practitioners who are  prepared to deliver safe, high-quality, culturally appropriate primary care in rural and underserved communities. The CAP program recruits 12 – 15 trainees annually. In addition to one longitudinal clinical experience in rural or underserved area,  they  must also complete two courses of behavioral health content for primary care that culminates with a comprehensive telesimulated experience. To date, two cohorts of trainees have successfully completed the CAP Program with a total of 27 trainees. Trainee testimonials may be found on the CAP program website.

Photo: 2020 CAP Program Scholarship recipient Akaninyene Ruffin