News and Commentary Kenya Beard on Being a Macy Faculty Scholar

Kenya Beard, EdD, GNP-BC, NP-C, ACNP-BC, ANEF, Associate Vice President for Curriculum & Instruction at Jersey College, is part of Macy’s 2012 Scholar Class. As a Macy Faculty Scholar, Beard developed a multicultural training program to help nursing faculty educate minority students. We sat down with Dr. Beard to hear about her time as a Macy Faculty Scholar.

How did being a Macy Faculty Scholar impact you?
Being a Macy Faculty Scholar has definitely affected me personally. I look at things through a different lens now. Before this experience, I had a lot of great ideas but didn’t know how to move my plans forward. As a Scholar, I felt that the Macy program gave me the tools that I needed to not just create a plan but to actualize it, and become an effective change agent.

What do you know now as an educator that you didn’t before?

I think what I appreciate more now is that change takes time, and that our work to improve the health care system and interprofessional education can be a slow process. I’m so passionate about the future of health care and how we prepare our country’s health workers, but I realize that not all the reforms I want to see can happen immediately. I think everyone in our field has to accept that system-wide change doesn’t happen overnight, but you can begin by setting an example in the hospital and the classroom.

What’s next for your project?
I focused predominantly on strengthening workforce diversity for my project. My goal was to help other health educators create an environment where academic excellence is afforded to all students. While we want to make sure that the bar is always set high in the classroom, it’s important that educators are also able to assist students in meeting their academic goals.

Currently, I’m involved in the New York State Action Coalition to strengthen workforce diversity. We just completed a toolkit that will not only help administrators and educators strengthen diversity in healthcare, but will also help their current students. We’ve written an entire section on funding, financial assistance, and the resources needed to enroll in health education programs. The toolkit also identifies some of the strategies that institutions can use, and that have been used in the past, to promote diversity and cultivate inclusive environments so that all nurses – regardless of their background – can flourish.

What advice do you have for educational innovators today?
Stay focused. Stay true to your vision. Find people who believe in your vision. Create an atmosphere around you that’s going to help you move your initiative forward, and just stay positive!

Learn more about Dr. Beard’s work at Jersey College.

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