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Pursuing Equity in Healthcare

Masters of Entry in Nursing Program prepares students for clinical practice and research.

Like every student in DePaul's Masters of Entry in Nursing (MENP) program, Gilliane Nwafor (Nursing, 2022) did not have a background in nursing or clinical healthcare. The MENP program prepares students from non-traditional backgrounds to enter the nursing field and work as licensed practitioners. Nwafor, now a Registered Nurse (RN) at Rush University Medical Center, initially started out with a B.S. degree in Global Disease Biology from UC Davis. This early interest in disease pathology, however, planted a seed that would lead Nwafor not only to clinical practice but also research – in a program that successfully prepares students for both.

During her tenure as a graduate student at DePaul, Nwafor had the opportunity to collaborate on research initiatives motivated by her activism for health equity. These projects led to two peer-reviewed publications with fellow students and faculty from the Nursing department in the College of Science and Health, as well as colleagues from other institutions. In the first study, they interviewed 100 nurses from diverse backgrounds to describe their experiences accessing and using personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research revealed widespread concern among practitioners about safety, supply, and PPE policy in response to the crisis, with a call for clearer guidelines and communication. The full study was published in Psych journal and can be found here.

The second study likewise focused on access and empowerment by evaluating the effectiveness of food sovereignty interventions – the ability of people to control their own food systems - in helping communities acquire and consume healthy diets. The literature review took a novel approach to the issue by assessing the role of community-based interventions on diet outcomes, finding that the most successful initiatives involved multiple elements of the food system and targeted both pediatric and adult populations. The full study can be found in Health Promotion International.

Nwafor credits her academic background and unique learning experience in the DePaul University MENP program with her current success and future goals, including the ability to create and disseminate new knowledge. “I plan to use my disease-based background in combination with my nursing degree to better equip my community with the tools and knowledge to maintain their health" she says. ​