Associate Professor receives prestigious University honor

The University of Pittsburgh recognized Pitt Nursing Health Promotion and Development Associate Professor Jill Demirci, PhD, RN, IBCLC, with the 2023 Provost’s Award for Diversity in the Curriculum. The award formally recognizes faculty’s efforts in integrating equity, diversity, and inclusion concepts into their courses and curricula.

“It was really special to get an award like this, as this education is something we built with community members over time,” said Demirci. “It’s also evolved to have student peers come back and share their clinical experiences. This open forum for sharing stories and experiences from different groups, on top of the clinical application and simulation, is a combination that has positively impacted student learning before they get into the clinical environment and establishing empathetic connection to patients once they are there.”

Demirci developed a curriculum on frontloading lactation with an equity focus to offer undergraduate nursing students a practical and low-pressure learning setting. The course introduces fundamental lactation knowledge, fostering critical thinking and enhancing nursing management skills. Demirci said the goal is to heighten students' awareness, comfort, and familiarity regarding lactation support for diverse patient groups.

“The implementation of the breast/chest feeding, and lactation education module has been a crucial element in my undergraduate education; not only did it make me more confident in my skills, but it taught me the importance of using inclusive language and the importance of using diverse models during education,” said Paula Hayden-Vasquez, BSN ’24. “I even had local nurses from Magee Women’s Hospital come up to me and compliment the education we received and tell me how impressed they are with the University of Pittsburgh nursing students’ education.”

“This education wouldn’t be possible without our wonderful parents from the Pittsburgh Black Breastfeeding Circle, as well as our own PhD and undergraduate students who co-instruct with me: Lauren Narbey, CNM; Alice Cline, CNM; and Paula Hayden-Vazquez,” said Demirci.

Demirci was recognized during the University of Pittsburgh’s annual diversity awards ceremony.