July 8, 2021
Response by author Carol Bennett to Tatiana Baiza and Dr. Lucine Francis on “Exploring Race in Nursing: Teaching Nursing Students about Racial Inequality Using the Historical Lens” (May 31, 2019)
Dear Tatiana Baiza and Dr. Lucine Francis,
Thank you very much for your thoughtful response to our article entitled, “Exploring Race in Nursing: Teaching Nursing Students about Racial Inequality Using the Historical Lens.” Certainly, this is a very large topic and indeed deserves our serious consideration. I could not agree with you more and am encouraged to find that young scholars are investigating diverse minority populations and addressing the gap that you so ably point out.
I also agree with you that people do not like being told how they feel and may find that classroom dynamic to be unjust, in the power structure of teacher and student. While searching for a solution, I have found the article by Blanchet-Garneau et.al. (2018) to be particularly helpful. The authors describe teaching which aims at fostering transformative learning by focusing on the intersectional aspects of discrimination. Nursing has traditionally focused on the individual without considering the individuals relationship to the larger community. Therefore, our perspective has been limited. This we must change.
In order to implement this antiracist pedagogy described in the article, I simply add one slide to student’s presentations. In this particular slide, they have to explore their individual patients’ potential for discrimination whether it is race, sexual orientation, gender, mental illness, age, addiction, immigration, or imprisonment or any of the multitude of characteristics that can be used to define this individual as “other”. After finding their research which describes the discrimination their patient may experience, the student has to consider the intersection of these individual characteristics and how that produces a profound vulnerability that has a major impact on health and healthcare. What I have noticed, since adding this slide to the student’s presentation, is that the student seems to have a deeper understanding of the patient’s life experience and its impact. The student’s behavior is one of advocacy while they are discussing the patient’s life and needs.
However, the revelation of the impact of bias in treating children with appendicitis and the impact of race and socioeconomic status is deeply concerning, and I feel must be taught to all undergraduate nursing students (Wang et al., 2015). This bias is deeply embedded in moment-to-moment treatment decisions which collectively hide the racism but is undeniable. As faculty we must search for research which will challenge students to examine and re-examine their own beliefs and attitudes. Then create assignments which explore that research from several perspectives. I have found that allowing the student to explore research and bring their findings to class to share with their classmates and colleagues, has been the most effective strategy for bringing transformation into the students learning experience.
I hope you will continue to raise questions regarding definitions and limitations of research and expand you own opportunities for redefining these constructs. Thank you for your letter.
Carole Bennett, PhD, PMHCS-BC
Georgia Southern University
Blanchet-Garneau, A., Browne, A., & Varcoe C. (2018). Drawing on antiracist approaches toward a critical antidiscriminatory pedagogy for Nursing. Nursing Inquiry, 25(1). doi:10.1111/nin.12211
Wang, L., Haberland, C., Thurm, C., Bhattacharya, J., & Park, K. T. (2015) Health outcomes in US children with abdominal pain at major emergency departments associated with race and socioeconomic status. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0132758. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132758