Director of accelerated nursing program helps build a culture of belonging

July 28, 2023

Headshot of Tyler Traister, the director of the accelerated nursing program

Following a competitive nationwide selection process, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's Diversity Leadership Institute has invited Tyler Traister, the accelerated nursing program director and assistant professor of nursing at Quinnipiac, to attend the virtual institute in 2024.

The five-month and five-module program is designed to help participants lead change in their nursing programs and launch a successful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative, developed as a capstone project.

Traister said he hopes to expand on building a culture of belonging at Quinnipiac, especially within the School of Nursing.

“Here at Quinnipiac, and other nursing programs, we do a great job of admitting students," said Traister. "But, we have to ask ourselves, once they’re here, how are we keeping them here? How are we keeping our underrepresented students engaged? In nursing, the end product is a standardized test, which is our National Council Licensure Examination. How do we support students who may not be experts at that? How do we make them feel like they belong here?”

These underrepresented groups can span racial classes, social classes, sexuality, gender, veterans’ status, disability (both physical and mental health) as well as others, he said.

Traister plans to help to further build upon Quinnipiac’s current foundation of DEI efforts and initiatives.

“One of the areas we have seen with nursing students, especially underrepresented students, is that when you have a robust mentoring program for those students, they’re more successful in the program. When they see themselves represented, it’s giving them that support,” said Traister.

Traister’s scholarly emphasis and practice focus on improving the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ people.  He is the author of one of the first textbooks for nurses regarding LGBTQ+ care, "Fast Facts about LGBTQ+ Care for Nurses: How to Deliver Culturally Competent and Inclusive Care.” In 2022, the book was awarded third place in the American Journal of Nursing’s Book of the Year Awards.

Traister joined the School of Nursing faculty as an assistant professor of nursing in June 2022.

“I interviewed at different universities in the region and when I asked about the anti-racist work that each university was doing, Quinnipiac was the only interview that I had where they had a solid, concrete answer," said Traister. "I felt the framework is here and the investment is being made by leadership. To see that commitment was one of the biggest selling points for me."

After moving into the role of accelerated nursing program director, Traister applied for the 2024 AACN Diversity Leadership Institute opportunity.

Traister is grateful for the support he received from the School of Nursing administration during the application process, he added.

“I applied because I felt it would be a great way to build that leadership experience in nursing education practice and to help advance our mission of DEI here for academic nursing,” said Traister.

During the months of January through May, AACN Diversity Leadership Institute participants will undertake five, two-day virtual modules of five hours.

Traister said he’s looking forward to discussions on subjects including identity theoretical frameworks, which to him, is really understanding all of the different facets of our identity and the intersectionality of our identity.

He’s also interested in outcomes from the module exploring conflict resolution and negotiation.

“Anytime you bring up diversity training, when we force these things, it automatically puts people on edge or on guard,” said Traister. “It can be reframed in a way where it’s part of our program, it’s part of who we are and how we celebrate those differences and how we celebrate each individual.”

In June, institute participants will complete the program with a presentation of their DEI-focused initiative. Traister said he will be working on his project with mentors at Quinnipiac, including Larry Slater, the School of Nursing dean, department chairs and others including program leaders within Quinnipiac’s Center for Teaching and Learning, to develop an initiative to be implemented.

“I think we have great resources in place here at Quinnipiac," said Traister. "I can leverage those through in this program that I’m in to create this project and really get momentum behind it. We want to make it more meaningful and more steadfast for these individuals so they feel more welcome and everyone feels included. It’s really creating that culture of belonging.”

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