Rounds with Leadership: Making Progress with Advancing DEI

AACN recognizes that advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is critical to developing a nursing workforce prepared to provide high-quality, equitable, and culturally appropriate health care. Our member schools share a commitment to preparing a community of scholars, clinicians, educators, and leaders who fully value the importance of DEI in eradicating health inequities and disparities in the nation and around the world.

In 2018, AACN's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee initiated a new member needs survey to establish a baseline understanding of DEI awareness, programming, and initiatives for students, staff, and faculty at member schools. Earlier this year, a second appraisal was conducted to assess current DEI practices and needs as well as progress toward meeting institutional goals. The new survey netted 313 useful responses from 892 member schools, a 12% increase from 2018. Key findings from the 2022 survey include:

  • Nursing programs ranked "promoting equity in all educational pathways" as their first and second priorities in creating inclusive learning environments, which was consistent with the 2018 ranking. Other top priorities include increasing the diversity of leaders, faculty, and students and integrating cultural competence and population health into curricula.
  • 82.3% of schools reported that their institution has a dedicated office or center coordinating DEI initiatives, a 15% increase from 2018.
  • 65 nursing programs indicated that their nursing program had a Chief Diversity Officer, an 11% increase from 2018.
  • 2.7% of responding schools reported using a holistic admissions process to recruit and admit students to their nursing programs.
  • Since 2018, schools reported a greater than 21% increase in the number of institutions offering unconscious bias training to senior administrators, faculty, staff, and students.
  • Barriers reported to creating an inclusive and responsive instructional environment included: Lack of diverse faculty (69.3%), lack of knowledge or skills in teaching content (46.2%), lack of engaging teaching practices (24.0%), and admission practices (19.6%).

Click here to access more findings from the 2022 survey, including how schools are ensuring that diversity planning and accountability are being addressed, the usefulness of various strategies in supporting an inclusive learning environment, and perceptions of practice partners’ commitment to DEI.

AACN is pleased to see the progress that many of our member schools are making, but we have more work to do. AACN is planning a more comprehensive AACN Diversity Members Needs Appraisal to be conducted in 2024 to provide an in-depth assessment of promising and evidence-based policies and practices regarding DEI in academic nursing. Our goal is to provide targeted guidance on how schools can adapt their programs to achieve their institutional objectives while informing the services that AACN might offer to assist in attaining those goals.     

AACN currently offers a full menu of opportunities for member schools and faculty to engage in advancing DEI goals and objectives. AACN presents workshops on holistic admission review and unconscious bias that can be offered at individual schools of nursing; has published an online faculty tool kit focused on DEI; created the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Network (DEILN); offers a Diversity Leadership Institute tailored to academic nursing professionals; hosts an annual Diversity Symposium; and publishes a quarterly Diversity Digest, among other programs. Click here to find out more about our DEI programming.