How Chamberlain University’s Dr. Kenya Beard is Improving Nursing Education

As Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Social Mission and Academic Success at Chamberlain University – a leading fellow of the Bachelor of Nursing Scholarship for underrepresented minority students in the United States – Dr. Kenya Beard plays a major role in shaping how many nurses are educated.

Recently, her influence has expanded even more since she was appointed Chair of the New York State Nursing Council, which helps set standards in nursing education and practice by advising New York State Regents and the New York State Department of Education.

Dr. Kenya Beard“The nursing profession is very powerful,” says Beard. “With four million nurses, we are the largest healthcare discipline that provides assistance to vulnerable populations. And our role is not only to provide high quality assistance, but also to open the door a little wider for access. ”

The beard helps to open these doors with a special key: social mission.

“When we talk about social mission, we use this general term to describe all the ways schools can contribute to health justice,” Byrd explains. “This is what we want to do as health care providers and educators. We want to make sure we create learning environments where [our graduates] designed to improve the health of all people and the populations they serve. ”

One way to create such an environment, she says, is to practice culture-based teaching.

For decades, according to Beard, the dominant voice has been maintained in nursing and education textbooks – one that focuses the patient as the cause of the problem or health problem, rather than the structures that surround the patient. Culturally responsive learning, however, offers different perspectives to the table and contextualizes the figures rather than simply passing statistics to students.

For example, teaching about type 2 diabetes, Byrd says that a textbook using a previously dominant voice may simply provide the following evidence: that obesity puts people at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and that African Americans and Hispanics have higher rates of type 2 diabetes. diabetes. However, without contexting this information, Baird says that nursing students run the risk of connecting the dots in a way that reinforces stereotypes and blames the patient.

“It lacks food security, it lacks the way the red line has directed people to areas where there is food security. It misses how poverty plays a big role in what people can buy, ”Borodach said. She shares the story of one student who was shocked to learn that soda was on the dollar menu at McDonald’s and a bottle of water was not.

“So what does that tell you? We need to make sure we are graduates who have a broader understanding of why there are disparities in health care. We need to move away from blaming individuals to really understand how structures play a big role in health outcomes. ”

The study of environmental and social factors that affect human health in education is called the model of “social determinants of health.” Just as this model is important for the understanding of nursing students, a similar model – the “social determinants of learning” – is just as important for the understanding of nursing teachers and administrators, says Beard.

The Social Determinants of Learning is a structure published by Chamberlain researchers in 2021 – and that’s basically what drew Beard to the university last spring. She previously served as dean of the Department of Nursing and Medical Sciences at Nassau Public College, when she constantly met students graduating from Chamberlain.

“I wasn’t familiar with Chamberlain, but because of the comments I heard from the students, I said,‘ Let me check out Chamberlain and see what this school does, ’because so many students could say so much positive. , so I wanted to know more. “

When she learned about the recently published school structure of social determinants, she felt a natural continuation of her work on access and equity in health. Just as nurses need to consider social factors that lead to ill health, the structure – which was presented at the National League of Nursing Education summit in 2021 – helps educators understand the social and environmental factors that lead to poor student outcomes.

The article, published in the Perspectives on Nursing Education, examines six factors that affect student success: physical health, psychosocial, economic stability, physical environment / community, social environment / community, and self-motivation.

“When we think about all these other issues, it helps us broaden our view of how society’s influence has affected who can come to higher education, who will get a higher education, and who will become a health professional,” Byrd says.

“We need to realize that when we talk about inequalities, we all, as educators and health care providers, work in a legacy system that has been prepared to create these disparities that exist today,” she continues. “This state was created by humans, and humans can bring us out of this state. But the first thing we need to do is be humble, modest enough to recognize that we play a role in this, and attentive and compassionate enough to get us out of it. ”

This article originally appeared in the Diverse edition of February 17, 2022. Read here.

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