Dedication to Diversity: Dr. Tracey Motter Builds a Pathway to a Diverse Nursing Workforce
Although widely acknowledged that greater diversity among nurses reduces health disparities and improves quality of care, the U.S. nursing workforce does not mirror the nation’s increasingly diverse population. According to the most recent Ohio Workforce Data Summary Report from the Ohio Board of Nursing, 88.7% of registered nurses reported their race/ethnicity as White/Caucasian, followed by 6.6% who reported their race/ethnicity as African American/Black. With over 25 years of experience at the Kent State University College of Nursing, Dr. Tracey Motter, DNP, RN, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs, has devoted her career to addressing the diversity of the nursing student population and improving transition to practice for new graduates. In addition to overseeing the traditional BSN, Accelerated BSN, and RN-to-BSN programs, Dr. Motter has developed programs and sought funding support to more effectively recruit, retain, and graduate a more diverse nursing student population. She explains her dedication to these efforts and the urgency of supporting minority nursing students, explaining, “If we are going to improve equity in healthcare, we must increase the diversity of the nursing workforce. As nursing leaders, we have the ability to be catalysts for change, and we must act now.”
As a faculty member, faculty counselor for the Diversity Nursing Association (DNA), and past member of Kent State University’s University Diversity Action Council (UDAC), Dr. Motter has focused on removing barriers that undermine the academic progress of diverse disadvantaged students to bolster educational and career success. She developed and served as the primary investigator for five national Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Careers in Nursing (RWJF NCIN) grants focused on increasing diversity in nursing. This grant funding provided financial support for student tuition and development and implementation of evidence-based strategies to assist underrepresented students in the Second Degree Accelerated BSN program. Dr. Motter was successful in leading the College of Nursing to identify and solve challenges faced by disadvantaged, diverse students; of the 60 students supported by RWJF NCIN, 95% graduated over the five-year period, and 97% passed the NCLEX on the first attempt. Dr. Motter’s efforts to enhance nursing education for all students, including diverse students, have also centered on developing and sustaining academic-clinical partnerships. She served as the primary investigator for three Choose Ohio First Programs of Innovation grants, in partnership with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and Aultman Hospital, supporting the Linked-in to Practice program focused on increasing diversity in nursing. The first cohort of 16 Choose Ohio First Scholars who completed the program had 100% graduation and NCLEX passage rates.
Dr. Motter also developed the Upward Bound Program for Nursing and Healthcare Careers sessions at Kent State targeting underserved high school students who spend 10 weeks in the summer learning about career choices and improving their math and writing skills. These sessions educated high school students about potential nursing careers and the important role nurses have to positively impact health outcomes for individuals and communities. Motter reports, “On day one, when I asked how many students wanted to be a nurse, not one student in 24 raised their hands. On the last day, when I asked the question again, half of the students said they were at least considering nursing as an option.” She also revived the Diversity Nursing Association (DNA) student organization at KSU College of Nursing with the goal to engage and support diverse nursing students from freshman to senior year in the BSN program and increase their sense of belonging at the College of Nursing. In addition to providing student mentoring, developing professional leadership skills, and promoting academic success. Dr. Motter recently applied for funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support the Increasing Diversity and Engagement and Accessibility (IDEA) project at the College of Nursing. The IDEA project seeks to develop a sustainable pathway to the Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) degree, leading to RN licensure for 16 diverse students. This program will increase the number of quality, culturally aligned RN providers who reflect the diversity of the community, as well as develop diverse clinical faculty. Motter notes that “staying connected with diverse students has afforded me the opportunity at KSU to increase the number of diverse clinical faculty, providing role models for current diverse students.”
Dr. Motter earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Kent State University, her Master of Science in Nursing from Gannon University and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Duquesne University. She is a member of the Ohio Nurses Association, American Nurses Association, and Sigma Theta Tau International and has published articles in the Journal of American College Health, Holistic Nursing Practice, and OJIN: Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. In addition to her faculty and leadership roles at the College, Dr. Motter has served as a practicing nurse for 30 years with clinical experience in critical care, post-anesthesia, med-surg nursing, and home and hospice care nursing. In 2017, she was named a Fellow in the Leadership for Academic Nursing Program (LANP), the leadership academy of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Her service to the College of Nursing has been recognized with numerous teaching awards, including the Outstanding Faculty Award at the college level and the Outstanding Teaching Award by the Kent State University Teaching Council. Dr. Motter strives to remove barriers for diverse students to succeed in a BSN program, including strategies such as grant funding that supports student tuition, job placement, and professional mentoring and partnerships with area healthcare agencies to offer evening and weekend accelerated programs. Most importantly, she advocates for “helping students feel connected while in Kent State’s BSN program” to ensure the success of diverse nursing students.