News and Commentary Macy Faculty Scholar Kenya Beard on Multicultural Education

Kenya Beard, EdD, GNP-BC, NP-C, ACNP-BC, Assistant Professor at Hunter College, discusses her project to strengthen nursing faculty in educating minority students.

Macy: Why is it important to train nurse educators how to teach diverse students?
Beard: Even though we talk about increasing cultural competency in health care, no one really asks: “Are our educators prepared to teach minority students?” Many nursing faculty—and most likely other health professions faculty too—feel unprepared to teach in a way that’s culturally responsive both to the diversity of students in their classrooms and to the diversity of patients those students are learning to care for.

As a Macy Faculty Scholar I am developing a multicultural education training program for nurse educators that will help them be more responsive to the learning needs of minority students and, ultimately, promote the academic success of all students.

What will your curriculum focus on?

Research shows that students from different backgrounds and cultures learn better with different strategies and techniques. Some students, for instance, may learn better in groups. Learning is also enhanced when students can relate to the issues that we’re teaching them about. So asking them, “What does hypertension mean to you?” and then listening to their answers can be more constructive than starting the discussion from the viewpoint expressed by the textbook author, which may not resonate with them.

My curriculum will help educators incorporate cultural competence into their teaching methods and create pedagogical environments that meet the learning needs of all students. Faculty who know what it means to teach in a way that is culturally responsive—who can recognize when and how they might need to alter their teaching approach to meet the different learning needs of their students—can really make a difference to students’ academic achievement.

How could your training program improve the education of nursing students as well as the care diverse patients receive?
Because we are supporting them academically, we are able to retain more minority students in the health professions. With a more diverse nursing body, we are able to better care for diverse patients and improve patient-provider communications. As patient care is improved, health disparities are reduced and patient choices are respected. Everyone wins when cultural competency is heightened.

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