SMU eNews
Kathryn Ward, Aara Amidi-Nouri, Thom Tran, Kathryne Henderson, Susan Cantrell, Beth Ching, Kira Allen, Lily Marquez   Kira Allen, Aara Amidi-Nouri, Renee Smith, and Margrette Peterson

Addressing Unequal Treatment: Faculty Present Study That Helped Create Change at SMU

This past June nearly two dozen Samuel Merritt University (SMU) faculty, staff, and students attended the 23rd Annual National Conference for Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) held in San Francisco.  Faculty who attended NCORE said the workshops provided an interactive conversation highlighting program challenges, innovative developments, evaluation, and maintenance of quality initiatives in higher education.

"The success of any cultural competency curriculum rests in the expertise of the faculty who must intentionally engage students in controversy to promote higher-level thinking," said Marjorie Hammer, MS, FNP, PsyNP, Assistant Professor, Pediatric and Mental Health Nursing in the School of Nursing.  "Attendees explored creating a milieu where student growth can occur and effectively facilitating discussion of controversial topics that improve interpersonal skills."

According to Aara Amidi-Nouri, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor and Director of Diversity in the School of Nursing at SMU, health disparities exist and are widening.  "Reducing health disparities remains a global fundamental challenge.  The Institute of Medicine mandates that health professional programs integrate education related to health disparities and cultural responsiveness into curricula."In line with the University’s mission to provide top quality education and skills practice to train future practitioners capable of meeting the healthcare needs of our rapidly changing world, cultural responsiveness and competence must take center stage. 

"SMU’s mission and its faculty and graduating students reflect a commitment to educational innovation to prepare highly competent professional leaders who are engaged in the advancement of healthcare practice and the improvement of health for diverse populations," said Hammer.

Ché Abram, Kathryne Henderson, Maria Salas, Lilly Marquez, Beth Ching, and Thom Tran

At this year’s conference, the workshop "Addressing Unequal Treatment: Leading Change Through Groundbreaking Programs" was presented by SoN assistant professors Marjorie Hammer, MS, FNP, Miriam Eisenhardt, MPH, RN, and Aara Amidi-Nouri, PhD, RN. This session challenged the participant through exposure to the innovative educational initiative and research constituting the groundbreaking work of the "Spirit Seminars", developed and implemented by Hammer and Eisenhardt at SMU’s School of Nursing.  Creating, teaching, and sustaining cultural competency programs were examined. 

"The goal is to enhance cultural responsiveness through increasing students’ awareness, knowledge and skills related to patients’ values and needs in order to reduce disparities in health outcomes," said Dr. Amidi-Nouri.  "We also shared lessons learned so that they can improve upon what we have learned."

This interactive session addressed the role of evaluation, research and collaboration in building institutional support and program sustainability.  Insights and strategies were provided into how educators can expedite students’ development of cultural responsiveness as change agents and care providers with a focus on efficacy in handling provocative content.

"The session was created to benefit educators committed to enhancing the cultural content of their curriculum through developing and keeping alive innovative programs that increase awareness of professional roles in addressing disparities and strengthening their own skills in addressing controversial issues," said Dr. Amidi-Nouri. 

Read more about the study, "Addressing Unequal Treatment: Leading Change Through Groundbreaking Programs."