November 19, 2020
Response by authors Carol Bennett, Ellen Hamilton, & Haresh Rochani to Aniyamma Joseph on “Exploring Race in Nursing: Teaching Nursing Students about Racial Inequality Using the Historical Lens” (May 31, 2019)
Dear Aniyamma Joseph, R.N.,
Thank you for your thoughtful and enlightening letter. You are pointing out a very important and interesting effect of our “blindedness” to racial injustices toward our minority nurse colleagues. There is no doubt that minority nurses experience slights which are related to race from unconscious bias which permeates our culture. Often, in no way is it meant to cause harm but the cumulative effect is very harmful. You describe it very well:
excellent staff members may not be recognized and or appreciated because they are seen as different. Situations like this can lead to staff members feeling left out and discriminated against.
Minority nurses leave the profession because of this feeling of being disheartened and left out. Their contributions may go unrecognized and this is a significant problem in our profession. Increasing all nurses’ awareness only comes when we speak out as you have done. As you suggest, more research needs to be done. I have two suggestions to be made to our profession at large.
Most nurse researchers are faculty members in colleges of nursing. In order to retain their faculty position they must publish articles and find grant funding for their research. This topic of racial inequality is not one that has attracted funding opportunities. Also, each journal seems to have a narrow focus for their publication, such as policy, clinical research, education, etc. It can be difficult to create the manuscript that manages to fit well into these criteria. I encourage editors to work with nurses who submit manuscripts related to racial inequality to help them meet their journal’s criteria. I will have to give credit to the editors of OJIN who helped me to shape this article and then also to Medscape for picking it up and distributing it to thousands of nurses. This support is invaluable.
Our profession of nursing must continue to actively support the education of minority nurses to reflect the population at large, if we are truly going to overcome racial injustice and biases. Supporting all of our minority nurse colleagues needs to become a priority in our profession. And as you point out all minority nurse groups need to be considered. I think the recent co-vid 19 pandemic and the recent racial protest across the country has raised all of our awareness of the profound contribution nurses and particularly minority nurses make in the health of our nation. Thank you for pointing to this important issue and raising our awareness.
With Warm Regards,
Carole Bennett, PhD, PMHCS-BC
Ellen Hamilton, DNP, FACHE
Haresh Rochani, DrPH, MBBS