Nursing Department Wins $25,000 Grant to Evaluate DEI in Curriculum

March 1, 2024 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

A photo of the exterior of Memorial Hall on the campus of Elmhurst College.

The Department of Nursing at Elmhurst University has received a $25,000 Healing Illinois grant to hire a local consultant who will help the department ensure its Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) curriculum fully integrates diversity, equity and inclusion concepts.

Becky Hulett, director of the MSN and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs, pursued the grant with assistant nursing professors Jessica Lamberson and Laury Westbury.

The Healing Illinois grant will pay for a consultant “to help us come up with the concepts we want to measure in our curriculum, how to measure those concepts, then integrate them into our curriculum,” Hulett said. “We’re hoping to get people more comfortable talking and learning about the intersectionality of our lives and society.” The grant will enhance Elmhurst’s well-rounded curriculum,  enabling students to develop a versatile skill set and embrace challenges with an open mind.

The MSN program is serving as the grant’s pilot program because it includes already-practicing nurses and because it has the least number of courses. Next up would be the doctoral program, followed by the master’s entry program and the undergraduate program.

“We will be impacting not just practicing nurses, but nurses that are new to practice,” Hulett said. “Elmhurst University already produces fantastic nursing school graduates, but this is an opportunity to up our game and put out an even more qualified, better nursing graduate to take care of patients. It leads to better health outcomes.”

Hulett expects the DEI initiative to roll out to the entire nursing curriculum over the next two years, but she said faculty could incorporate some curriculum revisions “right away.” Among the near-term changes she envisions: ensuring that assignments reflect what’s happening in the real word, adjusting how assignments are measured, and changing how faculty members talk with students. She also hopes the grant can help fund faculty professional development.

As a national discourse on DEI plays out in political circles and news headlines, Hulett says the nursing program and Elmhurst are taking action, not just talking.

“This grant is going to help us move past DEI being a buzzword and make sure it becomes part of who we are—accepting and open-minded, because we’re taking care of all sorts of people,” she said. “It’s our professional responsibility to make sure we’re embracing all people, not just certain people.”

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