Practical DEI

Practical DEI

Exhorting nursing staff and leadership to pay attention to the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is all well and good, but how do you put into practice ways and methods that make DEI a reality?practical-dei

It all starts with self-reflection,” according to Danielle McCamey, DNP, ACNP-BC, FCCP, assistant dean of strategic partnerships at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore. We have to truly take an honest inventory of where we are on our respective journeys and where our biases show up in our practices.” McCamey is the founder/CEO of DNPs of Color, an initiative to create and nurture a community of doctor of nursing practice (DNP)-prepared nurses of color.

Having gained that awareness and accepting that you will make mistakes, educate yourself and step outside your comfort zone, she says. Take inventory of what your circle of friends’influence looks like. Do they represent diverse perspectives and voices? What positions of power and privilege do you hold, and how do you take up space for yourself? How do you show up and advocate for others who may not share the same level of privilege?”

Most important, she notes, is to, Take action. Utilize your skills, knowledge, and position. If you see something isnt right, say something. You might save a life in that moment or give someone the gift of recognizing their areas of growth to do better.”

Nurse leaders, she notes, can work to implement DEI policies by including different voices and perspectives at the table to speak on policies. The more buy-in you have on different levels, the more people will feel included and engaged, and they will work to ensure that DEI culture and policies achieve their intended goals.”

Nurse leaders can advance DEI in various ways, according to Margaret Rosenzweig, PhD, CRNP-C, AOCNP, FAAN, distinguished service professor of nursing and professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. They include:

  • Ensuring that the vision for DEI is shared and active.
  • Educating staff and colleagues on how to address bias and promote DEI.
  • Create events and space for hospital staff to work with the community in assessing needs and promoting health. 

According to Crystal Beckford, chief nursing officer (CNO), recruitment and retention of a diverse nursing workforce are key to DEI efforts at Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center in Lanham, Maryland. Some 83% of the nursing staff is now diverse.

Weve made a concentrated effort to speak, teach, coach, and mentor at area nursing schools, historically black colleges and universities, and community colleges,” notes Beckford. Our efforts include offering internship opportunities for students that hopefully lead to future employment.”

She notes that this year, she worked closely with the Maryland Hospital Association, nursing leaders, and state lawmakers to pass legislation to create a Pathway to Nursing Pilot Program.  Across several pilot sites at community colleges, the program will provide support services to Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) to lower attrition rates, increase the number of LPNs and potentially the number of Registered Nurses, and advance educational partnerships with local health systems, according to Beckford.

In addition, Beckford notes that monthly Coming To The Table” sessions provide a platform for candid conversations that celebrate diversity and encourage mutual understanding. Moreover, the hospital fosters belonging and professional development through several Business Resource Groups (BRGs), with the African American BRG being the largest. These groups offer networking, mentorship, and advocacy spaces, empowering employees to thrive in an inclusive environment.

McCamey received the AACN Pioneering Spirit Award in May, at the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: More Than a Slogan

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: More Than a Slogan

Certain concepts frequently enter the popular consciousness and become a timely part of the current vocabulary. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one such concept, as are environmental awareness and the science of climate change.diversity-equity-and-inclusion-more-than-a-slogan

While the overall effect of these terms becoming more popular and part of the general consciousness is very positive, we also have to watch for these concepts being co-opted and used solely for public relations and sloganeering.

In these times of ongoing and profound collective reckoning with issues of systemic racism and a lack of diversity in so many areas of 21st-century life, we need to be vigilant in making sure that the concept of DEI is honored as much more than a slogan. We cannot just pay lip service to diversity, equity, and inclusion—we must live and breathe it.

Adopting DEI

With DEI being more readily adopted by an increasing number of healthcare organizations and institutions, we must hold organizations accountable for paying attention to the nuances of what DEI truly means.

Many of us have come to understand that patients feel more satisfied with their healthcare and are more adherent to recommendations from healthcare professionals when the staff providing their care look like the communities they serve.

When staffing healthcare institutions with diverse staff, issues that must be addressed include where organizations seek pools of potential new hires and inherent biases in hiring practices. For example, recruiting from historically Black colleges and universities is one strategy that could yield a broader field of viable candidates for positions in communities where Black providers would greatly benefit the patient population.

Initiatives such as the American Hospital Associations Health Equity Roadmap provide tools for organizations to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion toward collective transformation through the assessment of: 

  • Culturally appropriate patient care
  • Equitable and inclusive organizational practices
  • Collection and use of data to drive action
  • Diverse representation in leadership and governance
  • Community collaborations for solutions
  • Systemic and shared accountability 

Organizations like DNPs of Color seek to diversify the ranks of students entering Doctor of Nursing Practice programs and becoming active DNPs. On the academic side, medical schools and other institutions of higher learning that educate our future healthcare providers must also diversify their student communities by actively recruiting a diverse student body.

Specific DEI initiatives have deeper roots and extremely sincere intentions of righting wrongs and turning areas of inequity around. Those that work well and succeed deserve to be replicated by other institutions.

Authoring the Future

Words are powerful, and how we use them is crucial. However, academic and healthcare institutions must move beyond words into purposeful, meaningful action.

Well-worded DEI policies are important because things need to be written down, but the boots-on-the-ground experience of patients, staff, and the wider community matters more. We can ask ourselves how those policies were initiated, how theyre actually operationalized, and where our blind spots might be. We can also take responsibility to speak truth to power when we notice that an organization we’re a part of is not living up to its stated processes or goals.

Moving into new territory and doing the righteous work of righting the wrongs of the past cant happen overnight. When were attempting to undo decades or centuries of systemic racism and a lack of focus on diversity and inclusion, we are relearning the script, both individually and collectively. When we can move beyond words into meaningful actions with real-world implications, we must take this work seriously and give those initiatives the time and funding they deserve.

Our success in DEI is success for all. When everyone feels welcome, represented, seen, heard, and valued, we rewrite the past and author a better future.