Eleanor Mann School of Nursing Students Develop 'Diversity Toolkit'

Top, from left: Payne Colton and Jessica Weiss; bottom: Trang Do and Sam Torres.
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Top, from left: Payne Colton and Jessica Weiss; bottom: Trang Do and Sam Torres.

Two students in the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing developed a "Diversity Toolbox" to promote inclusion and to foster a deeper understanding of issues like racial bias.

Jessica Weiss and Payne Colton gathered a variety of resources for the project, including video interviews with students who have disabilities, book and movie recommendations, art, a discussion board and a space for recommendations. It's a self-paced "living resource" that will expand to include in-person events post-COVID.

"We hope nurses will gain insight into the diverse patient populations we treat," said Weiss, a senior in the nursing program. "It's our aim to assist in recognizing and addressing our own personal biases, as well as creating open discussion and promoting an environment of acceptance."

University of Arkansas nursing students who participate in Diversity Toolbox exercises earn "points" through the Student Nurses Association. Membership is a requirement for all students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing undergraduate degree program.

Colton graduated in December and just started a residency at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. He's proud of his work on the toolbox last semester and glad his classmates are taking advantage of the course.

"We knew there was a need for more tools to help create a diverse and inclusive campus," he said. "We saw that we could be doing more. And Jessica and I learned so much just through this process. We know nurses who graduate from our program will be more compassionate, inclusive and prepared."

Weiss will graduate in May and go into nursing full time.

Two new nursing students, Trang Do and Sam Torres, now help her manage the toolbox. Going forward, first-year nursing students will train with upperclassmen so that the course can continue as facilitators graduate from the program.

“I cannot speak highly enough about Trang and Sam,” Jessica said. “They have seamlessly navigated their way through all the tech issues that running a blackboard page can present. Their unique perspective has added so much to the team and I look forward to seeing them grow as nurses.”

She said the most popular aspect of the program right now is the online discussion board.

"We've been really impressed and moved by students' insights and vulnerability," she said. "We know participation in the toolbox is providing opportunities for personal growth and enriching nursing students' college experience."

Nursing instructor B.J. Garrett is the toolbox advisor. Jessica and Payne said they're grateful that she encouraged them to go forward with the project, and for her continued support.


This story is the latest in a series called the Dean's Spotlight, featuring outstanding students in the College of Education and Health Professions. Visit COEHP's online magazine, the Colleague, for more news from the six units that make up the College. Visit the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing page for more information on COEHP's nursing program.

Contacts

Shannon G. Magsam, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, magsam@uark.edu

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