VUMC Nursing brings wellness initiative to Nashville Public Library’s Hadley Park branchAug. 24, 2023, 9:47 AM
by Matt Batcheldor
Members of the Nurse Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (NDEIC) recently teamed up with the Hadley Park branch of the Nashville Public Library for a day of new wellness initiatives — including sharing health education information, raising awareness of health risks, and demonstrating healthy oral care habits to the community of North Nashville.
The July event was just one of the latest in a series of monthly community outreach projects for the committee.
The Hadley Park library sits next to senior housing for socioeconomically disadvantaged elderly, who regularly use the library, and was a particularly good location for outreach, said Mamie Williams, PhD, MPH, MSN, APRN, senior director of Nursing Diversity and Inclusion at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Lincoln Rico, RN, co-chair of the NDEIC, said health topics included diabetes and infection care. Nurses shared community resources and distributed free hygiene and skin care products, and Vanderbilt’s dental hygiene team provided oral health education. In all, more than 40 people were served.
Rico, a nurse at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital, said such events are important to reach diverse communities, because the name Vanderbilt may seem elite to some and unapproachable.
“I’ve met a lot of people just in my regular sphere of influence at home or at church or at extracurricular activities, and every time I bring up that I’m a Vanderbilt employee, they go, ‘oh wow’ … and there’s this perception that we’re so elite that we’re difficult to approach,” Rico said. “To have a diverse group of people who are representing Vanderbilt every month and showing up to these events, just having a presence of diversity, it creates an environment where all are comfortable.”
The group included male nurses and nurses of color, who look more like the specific community they are serving.
“Because we had a very diverse group of health care workers who didn’t have on their white coats, the folks who came to us felt like they could approach us and ask the questions that they wanted to ask,” Williams said. “They didn’t feel intimidated.
“This is a way for us to not only positively affect the community, but also to positively represent the Vanderbilt name and perception as it comes to health care,” Williams added.
That perception is not just important for those who may seek care at Vanderbilt, but also for a diverse population to consider working at Vanderbilt. It also benefits the nurses who participate, said Marsha Sesay MSN, RN-BC, co-chair of the NDEIC and nurse manager for patient care services for the Vanderbilt Plastic, Cosmetic Surgery, and Wound Clinics.
“Having VUMC Nurses participate in outreach events like this gives nurses an opportunity to experience a different style of nursing, outside the four walls of a hospital,” she said. “It also helps us broaden our outlook on the nursing profession and reminds us that we really can positively impact health in our communities. It expands our interpretation of patient care and what it means to care for patients holistically.”
The NDEIC has many other efforts, including a mentoring program with Metro Nashville Public Schools, working with high school seniors as they prepare for a career after graduation. Nurse mentors meet with students at Pearl-Cohn High School in North Nashville each month.
In other months, the group has represented Vanderbilt at other diverse community events, such as Juneteenth, mental health awareness and LGBTQ+ events.
For more information about Vanderbilt Nurse Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts, and how to become involved, visit https://www.vumc.org/vndei.
“By engaging with our diverse Nashville community, we better understand the needs of the patients and families we serve, and we become better nurses,” said Executive Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, NE-BC. “Thank you to all who are involved in this ongoing effort.”