AACN Launches New National Initiative Focused on Building a Culture of Belonging in Schools of Nursing

WASHINGTON, DC, April 14, 2022 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is launching a new initiative to assist nursing schools in creating inclusive learning environments where all students feel a strong sense of belonging and purpose. With funding provided by Johnson & Johnson, this new 18-month initiative entails scaling up the use of AACN’s Leading Across Multidimensional Perspectives (LAMP℠) Culture and Climate Survey to better assess the experiences of racially diverse nursing students and identify practices that facilitate student success. 

“Creating inclusive learning environments and a more diverse nursing workforce is critical to addressing healthcare disparities and health inequities,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer. “With generous support from Johnson & Johnson, AACN will work to uncover and disseminate the key elements needed to create diverse, equitable, and inclusive spaces where all students of color feel supported and valued as they prepare to lead the profession forward.”

The experience of belonging is essential to the professional formation of future nurses and has an impact on career trajectory. Students of color often have college experiences markedly different from their majority peers. The data show that these students face substantial racial and ethnic disparities in college persistence and degree attainment. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, almost half of all college students who enter a four-year postsecondary institution will fail to complete a bachelor’s degree within 6 years of entering higher education. This low success rate among college students overall, and students of color in particular, have negative ramifications for individual students and for society.

Assessing Culture and Climate

As used in other disciplines, culture and climate assessment surveys can assist with reflecting the experiences of racially diverse student populations and practices that facilitate student success. AACN developed the LAMP℠ instrument to assess the unique culture and programmatic characteristics of schools of nursing. The tool gives academic administrators a better understanding of how their learning environment is influencing student experiences and achievement. With assessment data collected from students, faculty, and staff, educators are equipped with valuable information needed to initiate change, target areas of growth, and most importantly, improve student outcomes.

Through this new initiative – titled Building a Culture of Belonging in Academic Nursing - AACN will create a digital platform to provide nursing schools with ready access to the LAMP℠ survey and action reports generated to drive institution-level decision-making. AACN will offer programmatic support to individual schools of nursing and disseminate findings on effective practices to enhance belongingness for students and faculty, particularly those from communities of color, to all schools of nursing through multiple channels.

“Developing inclusive and welcoming environments where there is a collective sense of belonging and all individuals thrive and do their best work is critical to achieving academic nursing’s goals related to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” added Dr. Trautman. “When students are respected and valued by their classmates and peers, they experience a stronger bond with the greater campus community. In this environment, students feel safe to share experiences, engage in thoughtful discussions, and offer support to others.”

Call for Pilot Schools

Updated on May 5, 2022 - Due to the high volume of applications, the call for pilot schools is now closed.

To test the new platform created for the LAMP℠ survey, AACN is currently seeking schools of nursing to be among the first to use this new resource.  All types of institutions are encouraged to apply, including small schools, public and private universities, academic health centers, liberal arts schools, and colleges located in rural and urban areas. Schools wishing to participate must complete this brief application form.

For more information on this initiative and the LAMP℠ Culture and Climate Survey, please contact AACN’s Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Dr. Vernell DeWitty at vdewitty@aacnnursing.org.