FNU Hosts Diversity Impact Student Conference

By: Wilvena McDowell-Bernard, Program Coordinator, Diversity Initiative PRIDE


Moving Forward at the 7th Annual DI Event


Frontier Nursing University hosted its 7th annual Diversity Impact student conference, June 1-4, 2017 on the historic FNU campus in Hyden KY. This year’s theme focused on “Moving Forward: Uniting through Diversity” where students, alumni, faculty, staff and guests united for team building tasks, cross-cultural activities and collaborative discussions to address health disparities and ways to improve minority health among underrepresented and marginalized groups.


FNU Diversity Impact 2017
The conference started off with an impactful welcome address by FNU President Dr. Stone, as she inspired attendees on ways nurses can use their leadership skills to impact and affect health disparities among underserved and underrepresented patient populations. Attendees then rolled up their sleeves to engage in an arts and craft session that explored their creative intuitions to highlight cross-cultural communication and its’ unique role in the nursing profession.

The arts and craft activity offered attendees insights into understanding what cultural language barriers may feel like from a patient and provider perspective in healthcare. FNU PRIDE student, LaTonya Rice, reflects on what she learned from the activity, “Learning to listen to patients more...will help me to be a better communicator when I’m providing care to my clients.”

FNU Explores Rural Health on a Field Trip!
Students enjoyed a field trip to Hurricane Creek Miner’s Memorial in the appalachian mountains, and toured the site commemorating the 1970 Finley Mine explosion, which claimed the lives of thirty-eight coal miners with only one survivor.  One aspect of the memorial shed light on various health conditions many coal miners endured on a daily basis. Attendees traced historical events to further explore rural health in Appalachia.

Diversity Impact Takes the Challenge
The enthusiastic Mannequin Challenge activity brought everyone together to create awareness of the Diversity Impact event and to showcase how participants are impacting health care within their communities. The Mannequin Challenge illustrates that everyone has a role at the frontlines of healthcare to combat health disparities.

Afterwards attendees also enjoyed a cookout and nature tour of hidden trails around the Wendover House used by Mary Breckinridge during the early years of what was then called Frontier Nursing Service (FNS).


Sessions Address Social Issues of Today
A range of diversity topics were led by nationally recognized guest speakers, faculty, staff, and students. Attendees learned the importance of cultural linguistics with Premier Speaker Capt. James l. Dickens from the US Dept. Health & Human Services, Office of Minority Health (OMH). Capt. Dickens discussed the linguistic relationship between language, culture, and how language barriers and lack of cultural awareness can dramatically impact patient/provider healthcare services.

Vaishu Jawahar, a 2016 Courier Intern, offers helpful advice from what she learned during the sessions, "As healthcare providers...you have to be able to take care of everyone or at least make them feel comfortable enough to seek out your care.”

Attendees learned hidden facts about the role Appalachia played in Rural & Immigrant Health, the Civil Rights movement, and the economic development of Eastern Kentucky, taught by Shane Barton from the University of Kentucky.
Keynote speaker and 12th President of the National Black Nurses Association, Dr. Eric Williams addressed the importance of cultural competency among nursing students, and discussed ways nurses can foster their leadership skills and mentorship to improve minority health among underrepresented and marginalized groups.  Attendees were encouraged to get active within their communities, school, and local professional nursing chapters.

Session speaker, Dr. Vernellia Randall, national author of “Dying While Black” (2006), walked through the historic timeline of health disparities linked to care administered to minorities, along with various racial barriers that limit and sometimes restrict access to care. She also explored the lack of minority health professionals along with cultural bias and racial micro-aggressions that impact care provided to culturally diverse patients.

Attendees enjoyed a surprise guest appearance by nationally recognized author, Dr. Scharmaine Baker of the NOLA the Nurse children’s book series. Dr. Baker was recently featured on NBC Universal TV for the “Harry” Show.
During the conference, attendees were provided with helpful  resources on Gender-Identity, Sexual Orientation and Trans-appropriate Patient/Provider Care from FNU Faculty Member Dr. Trish Voss, on nursing practices for LGBTQ patients and communities.


Attendees took a journey through the relationship of global midwifery from a Mayan midwifery perspective. Student speaker Essence Williams of class 140, addressed maternal-child and reproductive health amongst vulnerable populations in Guatemala, including traditional Mayan practices, and cultural rituals of indigenous cultures.

Afterwards, attendees learned how to infuse mindful, relaxation practices to achieve optimal performance in all areas of their lives with student speaker Heidi Carter of class 129.

Attendees Feel Renewed & Inspired
By the end of the conference, students, faculty & staff left feeling more empowered and focused on making a positive change in their communities. Laura Willis, an FNU PRIDE Alumni and family nurse practitioner in Ohio, expresses her appreciation and reasons why she continues to return to campus as an alum, “There’s a connection to this pace, to the history that’s here. And there is something so very important about all of the unique perspectives...that re-energizes and reinforces why I do what I do.”

Click Here for WYMT news report on Diversity Impact