New NINR Director Celebrates Health Equity and Diverse Nursing Roles

October 26, 2020 by Alec Stone MA, MPA, Former ONS Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy
Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, director of the National Institute of Nursing Research
Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN

Patients throughout the United States still face persistent inequities across the healthcare continuum because of social determinants of health ( and inequity in research (, Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) recognized (

“While NINR has accomplished much, there is so much more to be done,” Zenk said. “While nursing science has helped to make progress in reducing health inequities, it is clear that we have a long way to go before they are eliminated entirely.” 

Zenk, who began her tenure as director in September 2020, pledged that her plan for the institute prioritizes addressing those disparities. 

NINR will release a new strategic plan in 2021 “to guide our research and training activities over the next five years,” Zenk said. “I encourage all of you to participate in that process as the plan is developed and to offer your feedback.” 

Earlier in 2020, NINR’s Acting Director Tara Schwetz, PhD, also recognized the lack of equal representation in nursing research in an open letter ( to the research community, which outlined NINR’s current plan to address the inequalities.   

“Moving forward, NINR and the nursing science community must reaffirm and expand our commitment to research that will lead to healthier lives for everyone,” Zenk said.  

Zenk also called attention ( to lack of diversity within nursing workforces (  

“To truly prosper as a science, we must work to create a strong, innovative, and diverse workforce fully positioned to address any upcoming challenge and opportunity,” she said. “I am so proud to lead this esteemed organization into the next phase of its history.”  

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