Kupiri Ackerman-Barger, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN | University of Portland

Kupiri Ackerman-Barger, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN

Kupiri Ackerman-Barger, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN, is associate dean for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and a clinical professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. She is also the director of Faculty Development for Education and Teaching for UC Davis Health. Her ongoing interdisciplinary work has been recognized through fellowships in the American Academy of Nurses, the 2019 UC Davis Charles P. Nash Award, and many more. And her scholarship has appeared in publications including Journal of Nursing Education, Nursing Education Perspectives, and Journal of the National Black Nurses Association. Ackerman-Barger’s interest in health equity and social justice dates back to her time in nursing school, when she learned about the correspondence between certain diseases and certain races and ethnicities. Why was that? Her gut feeling was that there was more to the story than the accepted answer of “genetic predisposition.” There had to be a sociopolitical cause, too. She has devoted her remarkable career to looking for a more complete answer. And her extensive research has affirmed her intuition. Her work brings a patient’s allostatic load—that is, the cumulative burden of chronic stress and life events—into the conversation. “Let’s be clear,” she says. “When we’re talking about differences in health outcomes, we’re talking about health disparities.” Ackerman Barger has committed herself to resolving these pernicious disparities. She has combined her expertise in nursing and education to advance inclusive learning environments and to advance health equity. Her extensive research has shown that patients typically feel more comfortable working with healthcare providers from a similar background and that we need more people from diverse communities making decisions on what should be studied and how it should be studied. As a national consultant and speaker, she advocates tirelessly for underserved and underrepresented groups in health professions. “Success looks like organizations institutionalizing their change,” she says. This includes two key documents. The first is to have a strategic plan that specifically addresses DEIJ work. The second is to have an action plan in place. “You need to articulate both the what and the how.” She has been heartened by what she’s seen in the years since the pandemic started. “It was getting to where I didn’t think I’d see change in my lifetime,” she says. “But I’ve seen change. It gives me hope.”