DiversityNursing Blog

Meet FNU’s New Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Posted by Frontier Nursing University

Wed, Feb 28, 2018 @ 02:02 PM

diversityandinclusion2-1.jpgMeet FNU's New Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dr. Maria Valentin-Welch, DNP, MPH, CDP, CNM, FACNM.

Frontier Nursing University (FNU) is seeing yet another one of its diversity initiatives realized through Dr. Maria Valentin-Welch in her new role as Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Maria’s new position, which she assumed on October 1, 2017, is designed to guide the institution on matters of equity, diversity and inclusion.

Dr. Valentin-Welch has over 30 years of teaching experience, including her role at Frontier as an assistant professor since 2013. Through extensive work with marginalized and underserved populations, Maria has garnered several awards and accolades. She completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at FNU in 2015. Her DNP capstone project was a national online tutorial pilot program for ethnically diverse student nurse-midwives.

Frontier spoke with Maria about her passion for diversity and inclusion, how she will strategize those initiatives at FNU, and the challenges she expects to face in her inaugural post as CDIO.

What has been your career path so far and how has it led you to your current role as Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer?

“A medical encounter shaped my understanding of the need for diversity in the medical world. There was a man that was restrained; he was trying to pull his IV because he was trying to get to his true hospital. I advocated for this man, explained the situation…I was told, ‘Well, we don’t have a translator, so we didn’t understand him,’ which was unacceptable. We found a translator, and the man proceeded to have his IV removed and was transferred to the hospital where he belonged. This experience really taught me how to be a voice for the voiceless, and to be an advocate for those who need advocacy.”

How has your professional background influenced your passion for diversity and inclusion?

“While working with homeless pregnant women, I felt like I wanted to do more with my hands, and that was my inspiration, my calling, into nurse-midwifery. Also my love for education has influenced my passion for diversity and inclusion. I have always been a teacher in my heart. I have taught and precepted many students…teaching is in my blood.

Another changing encountered occurred during my first visit at Frontier. In 2012 I came to Frontier’s Diversity Impact Weekend for the Pride Program  as a keynote speaker, and there I not only fell in love with Frontier, but I also fell in love with the students who encouraged me to go back to school and go back to teaching. Now, I am an alumni of Frontier; I went to their doctorate program, and my capstone project was on tutoring and mentoring students of color. So, all of this was instrumental in bringing me to this point in my life.”

Learn more about Maria’s journey to Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer in this video.

Where did your passion for diversity and inclusion begin?

“My passion for diversity and inclusion began really by being raised in New York City. It was a wonderful, diverse area to be brought up in, and it taught me that we are more alike than we are different. Another encounter in my life that really brought passion of diversity in my life was being moved from New York to Boston, Massachusetts in the seventies during the busing times. A historical era with  a lot of racism and hatred in Massachusetts which has definitely improved since. However, that time period was really sad and showed me how ugly division can be.

A school incident took place that taught me that I am neither white, nor black, nor ‘other.’ I am Maria, and no one can label me. I am myself and that goes for every single person; we are all each personally unique and individual.”

Learn more about Maria’s passion for diversity and inclusion in this video.

How do you define diversity and inclusion at Frontier Nursing University?

“When our differences come together in a respectful and appreciative way for what each of us bring to the table, that’s when we reach diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion in a nutshell is the power of unity, and FNU will be more powerful for including it in its strategic plan.

Diversity is like a beautiful tapestry made up of each and every one of us. We are all different in so many ways, beautiful ways. However, when our differences are united in a positive way, we create a powerful, enhanced atmosphere that otherwise would be lacking due to missing parts. So, diversity and inclusion is the glue of unity.”

Learn more about how Maria defines diversity and inclusion in this video.  

What are you most excited about with your new position?

“I am most excited about the programs I hope to establish for students. Initially, these programs that I’ll be implementing will be pilot programs for our nurse workforce diversity grant students. We’ll work out the kinks and basically expand them to all students.

I’m also excited about bringing diversity to the forefront of Frontier. Our Community of Inquiry model will be stronger for it.”

What strategies do you feel will have the most positive impact on the FNU community?

“The strategies that I feel will have the most positive impact on Frontier are building these excellent student services, as well as diversity and inclusion training strategies and tactics to enhance our courses by threading diversity and inclusion issues along the way. We want to thread the subject matter even further throughout the curriculum. We will be stronger individually and as a whole because of the introductions of these plans.”

Learn more about  Maria’s planned strategies as CDIO in this video.

What are the biggest challenges that you will face in your new role?

“Uniting folks while our nation is receiving messages of division and promoting actions of division and lack of compassion – to me, that will be my biggest challenge. However, I feel midwifery and nursing have always held an important role in not only listening to people, but also advocating for what is right. Frontier is better and stronger than the division being promoted across the nation.”

Learn more about the challenges Maria anticipates in her new role in this  video.

What is a fun fact about you?

“My intersectionality is a fun fact. What is intersectionality? Intersectionality is a diversity term that basically explains that an individual has many hats that they bring to the table, not just what you see in front of you. So I’m not just a latina, female professor of a certain age. I’m also a mother, a wife, grandmother, and – here’s the fun fact – I’m even a great-grandmother of three great-grandchildren!”

Learn more about Maria in this video.

Topics: Frontier Nursing University, Diversity and Inclusion, chief diversity officer

Frontier Nursing University Hires Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Posted by Frontier Nursing University

Thu, Oct 05, 2017 @ 02:25 PM

Header_712x230.jpgHyden, KY -- Frontier Nursing University (FNU), a graduate school offering nurse-midwifery and nurse practitioner programs through distance education, has hired Dr. Maria Valentin-Welch, DNP, MPH, CNM, FACNM, as its first chief diversity and inclusion officer to lead the University on matters of equity, diversity and inclusion. Dr. Valentin-Welch is a certified nurse-midwife and has served as a course coordinator at FNU since 2013. She will assume the new role on October 1, 2017. 
 
officer.jpgFNU’s chief diversity and inclusion officer (CDIO) will lead the development of a vision and strategy that champions the importance of a diverse and inclusive environment that values and supports all members of the University community. The addition of the CDIO position is the most recent of a number of diversity initiatives implemented as part of FNU’s strategic plan to heighten the focus on diversity and inclusion for all faculty, staff and students. The CDIO will serve on the executive team along with the president, dean, chief operations officer and the executive vice president for finance and facilities.
 
“Research tells us that in order to incorporate an effective culture of diversity and inclusion, you must have top administrators at the highest level in the organization leading the charge,” says FNU President Dr. Susan Stone. “We have done so much to foster a culture that values diversity and inclusion; this was the natural next step for our University.”  
 
Dr. Valentin-Welch has worked on diversity and inclusion efforts throughout her career. One of her first assignments at FNU will be leading the implementation of a four-year program to increase the recruitment, enrollment, retention and graduation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, made possible by a HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant totaling $1,998,000 that was awarded to FNU earlier this year.
 
Dr. Valentin-Welch joined the Frontier Nursing University faculty four years ago and has served as a co-chair of FNU’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She will be moving to Kentucky in 2018 to join other administrative staff at FNU’s campus, which will be relocating from Lexington to Versailles next year.
 
“I am very excited to get started in this new role because focusing on diversity and inclusion will only strengthen Frontier’s roots, as well as our mission and vision,” said Dr. Valentin-Welch. “The birthplace of nurse-midwifery in the United States stems from the roots of Frontier Nursing University. Therefore, I am humbled and honored to become FNU’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer. Together, hand in hand, we will bring our FNU Community to higher heights.”
 
Additionally, Dr. Valentin-Welch will offer leadership support to FNU’s Diversity PRIDE Program which has been in place since 2010 and was designed to promote diversity in nursing and midwifery by recruiting more underrepresented students. She will also focus on collaborative opportunities with other organizations to facilitate the goals of diversity and inclusion at FNU.
 
“I believe our founding mother, Mary Breckinridge, is smiling down at Frontier as we open this new historical chapter… a chapter made up of many different pages creating a wonderfully diverse and inclusive book,” said Dr. Valentin-Welch. 
 
Contact: Brittney Edwards, Director of Marketing and Communications
859-899-2515, Brittney.edwards@frontier.edu
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Topics: Frontier Nursing University, Diversity and Inclusion, chief diversity officer

Frontier Nursing University Awarded $1,998,000 Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant

Posted by Pat Magrath

Tue, Jul 25, 2017 @ 11:46 AM

blobid1_1500648981783.jpgHyden, KY -- Frontier Nursing University (FNU) has been awarded the Nursing Workforce Diversity grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The grant totals $1,998,000 in funding in support of a four-year project that will be led by FNU with assistance from several key partner organizations.

The goal of the Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD) program is to increase access to high quality, culturally-aligned advanced practice nurses and midwives that reflect the diversity of the communities in which they serve. The grant, which provides $499,500 per year, supports a proposed project in which FNU will implement a comprehensive systems approach to implementing five evidence-based strategies to support disadvantaged advanced practice nursing students from recruitment through graduation. The social determinants of education will be used as a framework to assess student needs and guide activities throughout the course of the project.

The overall aim of the program is to increase the recruitment, enrollment, retention, and graduation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Through education and training in Frontier Nursing University’s advanced nursing and midwifery programs, these students will be prepared to provide advanced practice nursing and midwifery health care services across the U.S.

Findings from an American Association of Colleges of Nursing policy brief (2016) found that racial and ethnic minority groups accounted for 37% of the country’s population, yet minority nurses represent only 19% of the total registered nurse workforce (National Council of State Boards of Nursing Survey, 2013).  As minority population growth rises, so does the likelihood of these populations experiencing greater health disparities such as increased rates of maternal morbidity and mortality related to childbirth, infant mortality, chronic diseases, and shorter life spans compared to the majority of Americans. There is growing evidence that greater racial diversity in the health care workforce is an important intervention to reduce racial health disparities.  

“We are extremely proud and excited to receive this grant and to be a part of such an important project,” said FNU president Dr. Susan E. Stone. “We are deeply committed to the goals of the NWD program and helping to overcome barriers that hinder the success of our underrepresented students, from recruitment through graduation.”

The project’s primary objectives are: 1) to achieve minimum of 30 percent minority student enrollment by June 2021, the end of the project period; 2) to increase the racial and ethnic minority retention rate and 3) to graduate an average of 100 new nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners representing racial and ethnic minorities underrepresented in nursing each year of the project period. 

Grant funding will support personnel, consultants, and diversity training for faculty and staff.  Retention activities, including mentor programs and writing support will also be funded.  FNU students will also benefit from substantial scholarship support and professional development opportunities.  To achieve the goals of the program, FNU will formally partner with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the American College of Nurse-Midwives, Midwives of Color Committee (ACNM-MOCC), the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) and Mona Wicks, a multicultural sensitivity and diversity training expert consultant.

View the grant announcement on Frontier Nursing University's website.
 
Contact: Brittney Edwards, Director of Marketing and Communications
 
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About Frontier Nursing University:
FNU is passionate about educating nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to serve women and families in all communities, especially rural and underserved areas. FNU offers graduate Nurse-Midwifery and Nurse-Practitioner distance education programs that can be pursued full- or part-time with the student’s home community serving as the classroom.  Degrees and options offered include Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Post-Graduate Certificates. To learn more about FNU and the programs and degrees offered, please visit Frontier.edu.

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Topics: Frontier Nursing University, funding, Diversity and Inclusion, Health Resources and Services Administration, Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant, FNU

Frontier Nursing University Receives $1,350,000 in Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 @ 02:11 PM

By Brittney Edwards

Frontier Nursing University has been awarded a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program. This four-year grant totals $1,350,000 and will provide scholarships to 90 students over the grant period.

The purpose of the SDS Program is to increase diversity in the health professions and nursing workforce by providing grants to eligible health professions and nursing schools for use in awarding scholarships to financially needy students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many of these students are from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds and will help diversify the health workforce. Because 100% of FNU graduates are trained in primary care, the FNU student body is a precise fit with the goals of the SDS program. Not only does Frontier recruit, educate and graduate advanced practice nurses and midwives to work in primary care, but our university targets students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds and minority groups. With over 60% of FNU students fitting the educationally disadvantaged category and 20% qualifying as economically disadvantaged, FNU has a pool of students who can benefit greatly from this assistance.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer these scholarships to our students who might have had their graduate education goals postponed or unfulfilled because of financial constraints,” said Dr. Susan Stone, FNU President and Dean. “Our mission is to educate nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to serve women and families with a focus on rural and underserved areas, so the SDS grant is a perfect fit with our institutional goals.”

FNU will award 90 scholarships, valued at $15,000 each, over the four-year grant period. FNU tuition for the entire program, if attending full-time, ranges from $24,000 to $31,000. This low tuition will allow FNU to award nearly full scholarships for tuition with some funding for fees, books and reasonable living expenses. This funding will make the difference to students experiencing financial difficulties and allow them to complete their graduate education.

About Frontier Nursing University:

FNU provides advanced educational preparation for nurses who seek to become nurse-midwives, family nurse practitioners, or women’s health care nurse practitioners by providing a community-based distance graduate program leading to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a post-master’s certificate. For more information about Frontier Nursing University, visit www.frontier.edu.

Topics: scholarship, Frontier Nursing University, disadvantaged, diversity, nursing, health, students

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