Understanding Diversity Through a Leadership Project

Friday, 26 July 2013: 9:10 AM

Susan C. Davidson, EdD, RN
School of Nursing, University of TN at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to appreciate the usefulness of an action-oriented project in exposing students to diversity.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to design a similar project for a class in their setting.


Cultural diversity is incorporated into nursing curriculums in several ways.  Some programs incorporate content into courses across the curriculum with the goal of sensitizing their students to the importance of cultural norms and expectations.  Others attempt to accomplish this goal using more formal workshop or training programs.  These programs typically allow for direct exposure to “experts” who highlight in practical settings, breakout sessions, or simulations, the best practices.  We propose here a third alternative based on having the student plan a project in their local healthcare facility that would result in a change in that environment. 


Offered in the context of the Nursing Leadership course in an RN-BSN program, this Change Project places the RN student in the position of having to respond to the What, Why, Who, When, and Where of implementing change where they are employed. Students working in groups of 4-5, identify what politics, technology, resources, structural support and people are involved or affected by the change.


Students learn to work with differences within the group as well as presenting a change that can impact the culture where they work. Examples of projects that have been successfully implemented by students completing the course will be presented. In one instance, for example, a project suggested redesigning dress standards that were adopted by the medical center.  The result is that patients, families and other visitors know who is performing what role and how to direct their inquiry. This improves communication in a culturally diverse setting by alerting those unfamiliar with the environment to the function of the person with whom they are speaking.


Teaching diversity can be accomplished in an action-oriented planning project.  This provides another source of exposure to the goal of cultural diversity, while preparing students for a real world cultural experience.