Nursing has the privilege of caring for culturally diverse patients and the social mandate to do so with a focus on equity and excellence, respect, and dignity. Over the summer, events here and abroad have made us pause and reflect on diversity-; diversity of thought, beliefs, backgrounds, and how this impacts an individual's behavior. Diversity refers to all the ways in which people differ and the effect of those differences on our thinking and behavior. This includes socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, language, gender, religion, and age. A core element of diversity is inclusion, which calls for creating a climate where all individuals are actively engaged, feel safe, and are welcomed. A culture of diversity and inclusion is deeply instilled in the values and beliefs of AACN.
In a recent blog post in response to last week's events in Charlottesville, Virginia, renowned anthropologist and educator Johnnetta Betsch Cole stressed that "we can and must remain connected to our fundamental values such as respect for human diversity and the need to create and sustain inclusive environments." She made a special plea to organizations that have "made their diversity and inclusion values public" to reaffirm their values to make clear the expectations from their communities of interest. From our most recent position statement endorsed by member schools in March 2017, "AACN recognizes diversity, inclusion, and equity as critical to nursing education and fundamental to developing a nursing workforce able to provide high quality, culturally appropriate, and congruent health care in partnership with individuals, families, communities, and populations."
AACN, along with our colleagues within the Federation of Association of Schools of the Health Professions, strongly believes that violence, bigotry, and hatred have no place in the nursing community nor in our society as whole. AACN is committed to advocating for policies and practices that serve to recruit and retain a diverse professional student and faculty community, which sustain inclusive institutional climates for students, faculty and staff, and curricula that produce culturally competent nurses.
Valuing diversity is an essential tool for achieving a school's mission and core educational goals. How can we proactively create safe and productive opportunities for deepening discourse and understanding of controversial social, political and philosophical issues in the classroom and our campus communities? Students look to faculty and university administrators to set the campus tone and climate. When well-conceived and intentionally fostered, diversity can act as a catalyst for institutional excellence with the end goals of student success, quality patient care, and improved community health.
Now is the time for us to demonstrate moral courage and focus on our core values, which calls for respecting the dignity of all human beings. As nurse educators and leaders in higher education, we are well-positioned to foster inclusive academic environments that serve to improve the quality of nursing education, address inequities in health care, and enhance the civic readiness of nursing students. Together we can create a preferred future that reflects our core values and affirms the dignity of all people.