The American Nurse Association (ANA)/California (ANA/C) has created an executive task force of scholars that will collectively design an anti-racism toolkit for all nurses in the profession, according to an article published by the ANA in May 2021.
The ultimate goal of this toolkit will help identify and eradicate racism, injustice, inequality, inequity, and foster sustainable and equitable inclusion in the nursing profession and healthcare as a whole.
“Racism is a public health crisis,” the organization stated. “Racism in nursing and healthcare is a longstanding health crisis in California that needs our attention. As nurses, we are obligated to first address the systemic racism within our own nursing profession. Only then can we hope to adequately and comprehensively address the larger issue of racism in healthcare.”
In a recent interview about the initiative, task force members shared examples of 3 anti-racism transformational change areas for the nursing community to focus on:
- Facilitate constructive and sustainable conversations
- Implement reporting systems that support accountability and follow-up
- Standardize actions among key decision-makers
Communication: Facilitate Constructive and Sustainable Conversations
To achieve racial justice within nursing and healthcare, it’s important to establish a framework to allow a starting point for discussion about racism within the work environment and academia, notes the ANA. Staff nurses and management feel the need to advocate against racism in the workplace, but they may lack the communication skills to create constructive and sustainable conversations. Therefore, the ANA/C will establish accountability and transparency when beginning to discuss racism as an individual or organization within the nursing profession.
The nursing profession has always been one of advocacy for the health and well-being of patients, peers, and the society it serves. The task force asks for nursing to uphold this legacy for having the people’s trust and initiate the path for speaking up fearlessly to facilitate a sustainable change in the landscape of racial justice within the procession.
Investigation: Implement Reporting Systems that Support Accountability and Follow-Up
It has been noted that nurses who file complaints never receive follow-up or questions regarding the complaint. Additionally, no other channels had been offered to continue the complaint filing process if the initial management response or follow-through is negligent.
All organizations should implement systems, policies, and procedures that encourage staff to report any experiences of discrimination in order to ensure these experiences are investigated properly and for actions to occur. Evidence shows that these transparent and accountability processes, such as collecting and tracking data related to discriminatory practices, improve disparities throughout an organization.
Clarification: Standardize Actions Among Key Decision-Makers
Healthcare institutions, academic publications, and peer-reviewed journals must present factual and scientifically-based data that connects race, not racism, to various diseases or treatment responses. The ANA/C will strive to create a higher standard for publications to shift the unfounded biological expansion to an evidence-based context in order for healthcare providers to understand that race–not racism–is a predictor of epidemiological risk.
The power balance among leaders in the nursing industry should be shifted towards equitable equality and transparency in order to mitigate racism and discrimination.
Looking Towards the Future
Nursing has historically perpetuated a non-Black presence in academia; 85% of nursing faculty are white. Therefore, deliberate implementation of sustainable and equitable actions must be made by leadership to improve access to nursing programs for students of color and tenured faculty members. Merely having cultural competency training or choosing a person of color to lead a diversity, equity, or inclusion (DEI) effort is not enough to end racial discrimination in nursing.
The first step towards making the toolkit is to conduct a pilot survey intended to collect data and begin the initial steps towards educating nurses in California about the systemic and institutionalized racism against persons of color.
The ANA/C will assess the results of the survey and design an anti-racism toolkit with various educational resources that will become the standard methodology for individuals and organizations within the nursing profession.
“ANA\California has convened nursing and healthcare leaders to create an assessment and action plan for both Nursing Staff and Nursing Management,” the organization concluded. “This work will serve as a catalyst for sustainable change as well as a roadmap to facilitate that change based on individual and organizational awareness.”
ANA\California Launches Taskforce To Address Racism in Nursing. Nurse.org. Published May 24, 2021. Accessed June 3, 2021.