School of Nursing and Center for Spiritual and Religious Life team up on project to prepare students to work with diverse religious populations

Gretchen Persons headshot, smiling

Gretchen Persons

A grant awarded to Vanderbilt University by Interfaith America, a Chicago-based nonprofit dedicated to building bridges among religions, has resulted in courses to help School of Nursing students better serve patients of diverse faith traditions.

The School of Nursing and Vanderbilt’s Center for Spiritual and Religious Life are collaborating on curriculum for a series of three courses. VUSN students enrolled in the first course, “Enhancing Nursing Curriculum to Better Engage Religious and Spiritual Diversity” in the fall.

Rev. Gretchen Person, MDiv, associate university chaplain and associate director of religious life at Vanderbilt, Carrie Plummer, PhD, MSN’05, associate professor of nursing, and Leah Branam, MSSW, assistant in clinical nursing, collaborate on course content that incorporates more material on religious diversity into nursing classes.

Carrie Plummer headshot, smiling

Carrie Plummer

The project and courses align with Vanderbilt’s commitment to providing equitable and inclusive opportunities for students, faculty and staff to expand their knowledge and worldview. For the nursing students, the courses provide tools to gain a more intimate understanding of the diverse lived experiences of patients, families/caregivers and communities.

Interfaith America’s grant program was established, in part, from research that shows engaging religious identity in health care settings improves health outcomes and decreases the margins of health inequities.

As part of the new efforts to host broader conversations about health equity and religious identity in health care settings, the School of Nursing and the Center for Spiritual and Religious Life recently hosted a panel focused on engaging with various faith backgrounds in health care settings.

Leah Branam