I woke up this morning thinking about how some organizations who employ nurses, universities, and schools in general are making statements about diversity and inclusion. Some are including George Floyd’s name in these statements. I also thought about how there are many schools who are not making open statements about their heartfelt sentiments to the community, students, or faculty regarding the recent events. Within these organizations many nurses and faculty members are also working as frontline staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, to the current COVID 19 pandemic, African Americans have continued to have mental anguish existing due to continued racial inequalities existing and these truths being ignored by others.
Earlier this month, the American Nurses Association sent out an open statement about the social and racial injustices still existing and acknowledging how this goes against our dedication to nursing practice. I applaud this acknowledgement as it shows advancement of improving racial inequalities in an open forum.
Today, I am calling out organizations who employ nurses, schools of nursing, and universities worldwide to make a statement about racial inequalities existing and how they will address them in their organizations. It is not enough to say “I do not see color or it’s getting better”. In the recent months this has proven not to be the case. Those statements are not an accurate depiction of the truth as this dismisses those who are racially profiled against and judged based on the color of their skin.
Teaching in the field of nursing is a rewarding experience and an opportunity to give back to nursing. Education in the faculty role allows for providing insight into current practices based on lived experience and present evidence-based guidelines. Overall, Caucasians and Asians are overrepresented in nursing in comparison to African American and Hispanic nurses, according to a study published in the Journal of Cultural Diversity. As a result of this disparity, there are also problems with equal representation of minority nurse faculty. Those considered faculty of color have continued to represent less than 13% of nursing faculty. As a nurse educator, I have a direct impact on one’s future practice when caring for patients. I am concerned about these known truths and have a few questions for one to consider:
- Why is there not an equal representation of minority faculty when compared to the majority?
- Are individuals given a fair chance?
It is a tedious process to complete applications for faculty roles and often discouraging to obtain feedback from an automated email generated message about qualifications not matching. I encourage all minority potential faculty candidates to increase their visibility in becoming part of a nursing faculty and continue to be persistent. There does need to be interest in nursing research to be considered competitive for some positions. There are overwhelming amounts of candidates with clinical experience as registered nurses or nurse practitioners. Students more than ever need to see someone who “looks like me” at some point in their curriculum with whom they identify with. This is important in ensuring self-efficacy is present throughout their program.
Often, the hiring process is screened by human resources and not nursing departments. Specific to nursing may be the change of having administrative involvement with applications submitted for faculty roles. Anyone who knows me both personally and professionally understands my passion for nursing education. A majority of my close friends have been convinced to give back to nursing in becoming professors. As an African American female, I disproportionately represent a minority faculty. I am grateful for my opportunities. However, we have more work to do in the recruitment and retention of minority nurse faculty.
Colleges and universities must consider diversity within the workplace, particularly for nursing. This is an initiative for the American Association of College of Nursing (AACN). Their initiative involved the inclusion of a diversity of both students and faculty in schools of nursing across the country. An inclusive learning environment can be shaped by the active recruitment of minority faculty. Should there be a representation of diversity in the hiring process, such as within a search committee? This endorsement by AACN is a step in the right direction in the solution to improving a diverse workplace and learning environment for students. Recognition is the first step in making strides to consider those who are minorities from diverse backgrounds.