AACN Diversity Digest: Developing a Culture of Equity: How an AJEDI Nursing Committee at Sonoma State University is Creating Change

By Kaija Freborg, DNP-TCN, RN, NC-BC, Associate Professor, AJEDI Nursing Chair, Sonoma State University, and Anne-Marie O’Brien PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, Associate Professor, AJEDI Committee Member, Sonoma State University
May 7, 2024

Guided by critical social theory and Watson’s Theory of Human Caring, Sonoma State University’s (SSU) Department of Nursing is committed to promoting health justice. In December 2021, the department established the Anti-Racism, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (AJEDI) committee to advise faculty in its efforts to disrupt exclusionary practices embedded in nursing education. The first step of this committee was to draft a Racial and Social Justice Statement and Action Plan. In the Action Plan, the AJEDI committee identified both the knowing and unknowing of policies, processes, and curricula in the department that could create barriers, foster inequity, or contribute to ongoing oppression. To address these potential unjust practices, the Action Plan outlined four programmatic areas: 1) evaluate and implement a holistic admissions review process; 2) identify and dismantle oppressive pedagogy and culture through racial literacy and professional development strategies; 3) adopt a racial equity self-audit tool to critically examine, deconstruct, and rebuild curricula; and 4) review and implement inclusive criteria and practices within the faculty hiring process.

Holistic Admissions

To promote equity and access to nursing education, the AJEDI committee is developing proposed revisions to the nursing department’s admissions policies and procedures. Members have consulted the existing literature (e.g., Scott & Zerwic, 2015; Glazer et al., 2016) as well as accessed tools and resources found on AACN’s Holistic Admissions webpage to guide the process. While still a work in progress, the committee’s draft proposal uses an experience-attributes-metrics model to offer applicants the opportunity to demonstrate their experience and commitment to the department’s core mission, which is to educate the next generation of equity-minded nurses.

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