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Program for diverse new nurse leaders, faculty launched

Sep. 1, 2022, 8:43 AM


by Nancy Wise

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is creating a new leadership development program for nurses new in health care leadership and academic positions who are from groups historically underrepresented in nursing and/or those who support them.

The Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders will be held in Nashville Nov. 14-18. Applications for the inaugural class of fellows are now being accepted.

“The need for nursing faculty and nurse leaders from groups historically underrepresented in nursing is well established, but research shows a need for career development resources that address the specific needs and challenges of diverse nurse leaders,” said Pamela Jeffries, dean of Vanderbilt School of Nursing. “We believe that the knowledge, mentorship, strategy and skills that new leaders will attain via the Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders will empower them to continue to advance and lead.”

Rolanda Johnson, PhD, MSN, RN, VUSN associate dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Mamie Williams, MPH, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, Vanderbilt University Medical Center senior director for Nurse Diversity and Inclusion, will co-direct the academy, which is designed for nurses who have been in academic or health care leadership roles for less than three years.

“What makes this fellows program different from other professional development opportunities is that it incorporates and builds on the lived experiences of diverse faculty and health care leaders who have navigated a similar leadership path,” Johnson said. “It explores the challenges of being a leader from an underrepresented group as well as the challenges of supporting and expanding diversity in nursing leadership.”

The academy is taught by experienced faculty and health care leaders from diverse backgrounds, and is specifically designed to serve the needs of new and emerging nurse leaders and faculty. In addition to the initial five-day, in-person meeting, fellows will also participate in virtual sessions, receive mentorship from an executive coach and institutional mentor and develop a leadership project.

Williams said that the idea for the academy resonated with her as she thought about her own nurse leadership journey of more than 20 years.

“This leadership academy, based on specialized education, discussions and interactions with peers and diverse nurse leaders, affords the emerging leader an opportunity to thoughtfully design their leadership journey,” she said.

“This leadership academy has the potential to affect nursing widely in terms of both the retention of diverse leaders as well as the recruitment of nurses and nursing students. Research shows nurses and nursing students are drawn to work and learn in environments where there is diversity representation within leadership.”

Williams and Johnson said the academy was developed to help new nursing faculty and new nurse leaders build the skills, gain the knowledge, and build a network of colleagues and mentors to help them advance their careers, and in turn, mentor other emerging nurse leaders.

VUMC Executive Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, NE-BC, who is on the academy’s task force, said the VUMC/VUSN partnership would create further opportunities for historically underrepresented groups to enrich nursing at Vanderbilt.

“I am excited to partner with my School of Nursing colleagues to ensure the future of Vanderbilt Nursing includes a vibrant, diverse group of nurses to care for our very diverse patients and families,” she said.

“This program promises to bring together professionals with shared experiences and diverse perspectives who will enrich patient care at Vanderbilt.”

Applications for the first cohort of the Academy for Emerging Diverse Nurse Leaders are now open and available at For more information and details on the academy, visit

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