Now that diversity and inclusion programs can sigh with relief that they are not “unAmerican” after all, we can proceed to celebrate their vital role in encouraging non-Whites to enter the nursing workforce. One of the nursing school champions in this area is Frontier Nursing University, and this year, Dr. Geraldine Young, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CDCES, FAANP, FNU’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, is being recognized as one of the Outstanding Women in Higher Education by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine. This is the 10th consecutive year that Diverse has named 25 women “who have made a difference in the academy by tackling some of higher education’s toughest challenges, exhibiting extraordinary leadership skills, and making a positive difference in their respective communities.” The issue will be published on March 4, 2021, in honor of Women’s History Month.
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be recognized on this special list of women,” Dr. Young said. “I am thankful to have led the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at FNU over the past year. As we strengthen our own environment, we have the opportunity to set an example and standard for other institutions to follow. I thank Diverse magazine for this honor and for giving us this platform to inspire others.”
Dr. Young, whose service in the nursing profession spans over 20 years, joined FNU in the fall of 2019. She holds a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (2010), an MSN from Alcorn State University in Mississippi (2005), and a BSN from the University of Mississippi Medical Center (2001). She is also a board-certified family nurse practitioner (FNP) (2005) and a certified diabetes care and education specialist (2011).
Dr. Young is a National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) Leadership Fellow and Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (FAANP) and has been deemed a content expert for one of the leading credentialing bodies for NPs, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). She serves on an array of national committees to advance nurse practitioner education, including the NONPF Curricular Leadership Committee and Conference Committee. She is also a member of the NONPF Board of Directors and a member of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Essentials Task Force.
As a member of the Essentials Task Force and NONPF Board of Directors, Dr. Young is ensuring cultural diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of nursing education to address the health disparities and inequalities that exist in our nation. She has effectively delivered models of clinical practice to improve the outcomes of underserved and minority populations with diabetes in conjunction with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).
FNU President Dr. Susan Stone, CNM, DNSc, FAAN, FACNM cheered Dr. Young’s “experience and expertise as an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion,” and added, “With the guidance of Dr. Young… we will continue to make diversity, equity, and inclusion a top priority at all levels of the university.”
In each of the past three years, FNU has also received the prestigious Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The Health Professions HEED Award is the only national honor recognizing U.S. medical, dental, pharmacy, osteopathic, nursing, veterinary, allied health, and other health schools and centers that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion across their campuses.
FNU’s commitment to emphasizing and valuing diversity and inclusion was formally instituted in 2006 when the university began intense efforts to recruit minority students in an effort to diversify the advanced practice nursing and midwifery workforce. FNU’s initial efforts were funded through the support of an Advanced Nurse Education grant from the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA). In 2010, FNU held its first annual Diversity Impact Conference. Held each summer since then, the Diversity Impact Conference opens the door for nurse practitioner and nurse-midwifery students plus faculty and staff to foster collaborative discussions, address health disparities, and find proactive solutions to improve minority health among underrepresented and marginalized groups. Today, the goal of a diverse health care workforce continues with efforts to recruit and educate faculty, staff, students, and preceptors and integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts throughout all of FNU operations with a goal that it should be fully integrated into the university’s culture. FNU’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are currently funded with a Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant from the HRSA.
These diversity initiatives span all facets of the university, but one of the most telling and important data points is the percentage of students of color enrolled at FNU. In 2009, that number was 9 percent. Starting in 2010 with the HRSA funding, FNU’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives have resulted in the percentage of students of color enrolled growing to 25 percent today.