Research News

Grant awarded to Vanderbilt School of Nursing and Center for Spiritual and Religious Life will help prepare students to work with diverse religious populations

A grant awarded to Vanderbilt University by Interfaith America, a Chicago-based nonprofit dedicated to building bridges among religions, has resulted in training opportunities for nursing students to help them better serve patients of diverse faith traditions.

The Center for Spiritual and Religious Life and Vanderbilt School of Nursing are collaborating to develop curriculum. They have created a course, “Enhancing Nursing Curriculum to Better Engage Religious and Spiritual Diversity.” An inaugural group of students started the course this fall.

The Center for Spiritual and Religious Life building on Vanderbilt’s campus. Photo credit: Vanderbilt University

Rev. Gretchen Person, associate university chaplain and associate director of religious life at Vanderbilt; Carrie Plummer, associate professor of nursing and course co-coordinator of Community and Population Health, Health Equity, and Interprofessional Education three-course series; and Leah Branam, assistant in clinical nursing and co-coordinator of the three-course series, have worked on course development focused on incorporating more content on religious diversity into nursing programs.

In alignment with Vanderbilt’s commitment to providing equitable and inclusive opportunities for students, faculty and staff to expand their knowledge and worldview, the course serves to offer nursing students tools to gain a more intimate understanding of the diverse lived experiences of patients, families/caregivers and communities.

Interfaith America’s grant program was established, in part, from research that shows engaging religious identity in health care settings improves health outcomes and decreases the margins of health inequities.

As part of the new efforts to host broader conversations about health equity and religious identity in health care settings, CSRL and VUSN hosted a Nov. 14 panel focused on engaging with various faith backgrounds in health care settings.

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing will use a $3.2 million federal grant for a scholarship program for economically disadvantaged students from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority backgrounds. The program aims to increase diversity in primary health care providers, particularly in medically underserved areas.
A patient meets with a health care provider at Vanderbilt University. Photo credit: Vanderbilt University.