Cura personalis.

“Care for the entire person.” The innovative bachelor of science in nursing at John Carroll University (JCU) welcomed the fall 2023 inaugural cohort with their guiding Jesuit principle at the forefront of the student experience.

Empowered by diversity-focused initiatives and strategic community partnerships, JCU’s nursing students are actively confronting bias in the health care industry while gaining insights into the unique needs of marginalized communities. Naomi Sigg, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), is steadfast in her commitment to this approach.

“We want students to truly know and understand themselves, because our experiences and history can lead to bias, and bias can influence action. For nurses, and really anyone in the health care field, we want to ensure that bias doesn’t play a role in patient care,” Sigg explains.

Certificates in the JCU nursing program:

  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Innovation/Entrepreneurship
  • Professional Development
  • Resiliency

JCU’s efforts include specialized certificates with concentrations in DEI and strong partnerships with organizations like the Cleveland Council of Black Nurses (CCBN) and the Philippine Nurses Association of Ohio (PNAO).

Sigg notes that the link with PNAO originated when a student in one of her honors courses on Asian American history revealed a familial connection. The partnerships have since developed into a synergistic relationship, the benefits of which are evident even in the program’s infancy.

Previously lacking sufficient resources to secure a permanent space for their meetings, equipment and supplies, or group-led events, both PNAO and CCBN needed a dependable location to help them serve members and expand their outreach.

By allocating each group the necessary space and access, JCU ensures they will thrive while also maintaining a consistent presence on campus.

This benefits nursing students by creating an ongoing opportunity to connect with members of each organization for valuable learning experiences like mentorship, job shadowing, workshops, continuing education, service, and more.

“Nearly 100% of our nursing students are engaged in service,” says Sigg, “so we’re very excited that these partnerships will allow us to explore ongoing options.”

LaTonya Martin, president of CCBN, views civic engagement as a wellspring of inspiration for aspiring nurses, propelling them to become catalysts for change in health care. She sees the role of CCBN as an important one in that process, noting, “[Our] members and associates are leaders in their field and will have the momentum to encourage leadership, mentoring, and collaborative skills in our upcoming and current nurses.”

“We want to ensure that bias doesn’t play a role in patient care.”

– Naomi Sigg

Community partnerships with organizations representing marginalized communities give students exposure to the unique needs of those patients and enhanced awareness of the disparity in treatment and outcomes.

Awareness is the key to change, and Sigg points to the specialized certificates as another way students learn about bias in health care.

The four certificates, each resulting from 15 hours of specialized coursework, are earned as students complete content already embedded in the program curriculum.

The DEI Certificate, for example, ensures they are “equipped to provide culturally competent care and promote an inclusive healthcare environment for all.” The Resiliency Certificate is designed to provide tools that will help them maintain their mental and physical health and wellness when working professionally in the high-stress nursing field.

By addressing bias in health care through specialized certificates and fostering ongoing engagement with these organizations, JCU is cultivating a generation of culturally competent and socially aware nurses. This holistic approach ensures their nursing graduates are not only technically proficient but also compassionate advocates for equity and inclusivity in the ever-evolving landscape of health care.●

This article was published in our January/February 2024 issue.

Above: Nursing students from the first BSN cohort at John Carroll University.