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Maximizing Leadership Potential in Racial and Ethnic Minority LEND Trainees

The LEND programs of the PacWest region have worked together and consistently sought ways to strengthen interdisciplinary leadership training and achieve a diverse MCH workforce over the past four years. We began the process by identifying barriers and gaps in supporting and mentoring racially and ethnically diverse LEND trainees. Focus groups of trainees were conducted and the following themes were identified:

  • The need for LEND programs to better understand the impact of race and ethnicity on learning styles. In many cultures, experiential learning is preferred. LENDs should clearly present program goals. Non-clinical trainees (parents or individuals with disabilities) should not be placed at a disadvantage in completing the program requirements. 
  • Often trainees felt overwhelmed and expressed the need for a safe space to process what they were learning. From a cultural perspective, they were often concerned about asking questions because they were afraid it would be interpreted as not being competent. 
  • Trainees noted the need to have someone with whom they could openly discuss concerns and process what they were learning in LEND. There was a stated need for more opportunity for dialogue with other racially and ethnically diverse trainees.

Based on this prior experience, mentorship was expanded and implemented under a FAST grant as a train-the-trainer model for the PacWest LEND programs. It focused on the development of the mentorship skills and abilities of racially and ethnically diverse LEND faculty under the direction of a project consultant. The participating LEND faculty members from AL, NM, NV, OR, UC, and UT received face-to-face training and monthly mentorship. The LEND faculty committed to mentoring racially and ethnically diverse LEND trainees from their programs. At the end of spring semester, the participating LEND faculty members conducted a training regarding mentorship for their respective LEND programs.

Four out of six LEND faculty participants in the model mentorship training program completed a pre and post project training survey. Three out of four reported improved understanding, knowledge and ability and the fourth respondent initiated the program with strong skills and did not change.

Eight LEND trainee mentees completed the post experience survey. All respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the statements: 1) As a result of this mentorship experience, I have gained skills in leadership; 2) The mentorship experience will have a positive impact on my current or future professional work; 3) I plan to assist in recruiting future LEND trainees.

The PacWest Faculty who participated in the project reported the following key concepts as a result of the FAST project:

  • The definition and practice of mentorship was expanded through this experience. 
  • Minority trainees need guidance in navigating the organizational, structural, procedural, and political aspects of working in higher education. 
  • Minority trainees can succeed with guidance and organizational supports, even when the have limited English proficiency. 
  • Faculty experienced similar situations and identified common issues within their work environment. They discussed diverse related topics such as biases, discrimination, and lack of empathy and developed strategies collaboratively. 
  • The LEND faculty voiced a commitment to address increasing diversity in their programs and increasing cultural competency knowledge and skills.

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