It’s NOT Business As Usual

The current events in this country leave me shocked, fearful, and anxious; I am both angry and sad.

Countless healthcare workers have already been working through the effects of Covid-19 in their personal and professional lives. And then, on May 25, 2020, the world witnessed the horrific and brutal attack on George Floyd in Minneapolis, something that never should have happened.

Mr. Floyd died as a result of the excessive and unnecessary force by police. His death and how he died has been the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.” It has triggered a worldwide movement protesting the treatment of Blacks in the USA and other countries.

When I first started writing, I wanted to tell you about my life, and the impact racism had on me; as a child growing up during Civil Rights, as a mother, nurse, and a nurse practitioner.

And while this is not about me, I’d like you to meet my parents. I want you to imagine their fears and frustrations, not only for themselves but their children as well.

In parts of the US, my parent’s marriage was considered illegal. You see, my mother and father “tied the knot” while it was unlawful for a black man and a white woman to get married. And while we’re living in the 21st century, their fears, frustration, and pain are still not a thing of the past. 

But let’s talk about healthcare, about nursing and NPs as healthcare providers.

If you have been listening to your friends and colleagues, especially during the past week, then you know many have experienced racism over the years. Both blatant and subtle, not only in their day to day lives, but also in nursing and healthcare. 

For example:

  • Patients who ask for another nurse or provider (one who is white).
  • Positions, promotions, and transfers that do not happen despite having more than the required qualifications.
  • Dismissive attitudes like:  “Oh, don’t worry, she didn’t mean it,” or “Oh, you didn’t want that job anyway.”

Maybe you even uttered those words yourself. Too uncomfortable to hear (or want to hear) what was said. Ask yourself if you’re really listening to your colleagues?

And what about your patients of color? Have you asked if they feel listened to and their needs addressed?  Have you asked them if they think their complaints or symptoms are taken seriously?

Various organizations and businesses have issued statements denouncing racism this past week. Some are good, but unfortunately, some almost feel as if it was done because it is the politically correct thing to do right now.

Two statements that are pertinent to us are from the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

Ernest Grant, Ph.D., RN, FAAN and ANA President, stated in part:

“As a black man and registered nurse, I am appalled by senseless acts of violence, injustice, and systemic racism and discrimination. Even I have not been exempt from negative experiences with racism and discrimination. The Code of Ethics obligates nurses to be allies and to advocate and speak up against racism, discrimination and injustice. This is non-negotiable.

Racism is a longstanding public health crisis that impacts both mental and physical health. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this crisis and added to the stress in the black community, which is experiencing higher rates of infection and deaths.

At this critical time in our nation, nurses have a responsibility to use our voices to call for change. To remain silent is to be complicit.”

AANP’s statement also addressed this as a public health issue:

“Nurse practitioners (NPs) place the health and dignity of every human being in the highest regard. We fight daily to ensure that patients receive equal access to the quality health care they deserve, and we work to break down the barriers that continue to reinforce inequalities. Marginalization of our fellow citizens is unacceptable and can result in unnecessary and tragic deaths.”

It’s time for all of us to learn more, listen, and take action. We must implement sustainable changes in our practices, communities, our country, and the world.

On Tuesday, June 9th, I’ll be interviewing Juliette Blount, a nurse practitioner, and expert on implicit bias and health disparities for patients of color. We’ll be talking about what we as nurses and as nurse practitioners can do to address the issues in our practices, no matter if you are employed or work in your own practice. I’ll share the interview with you, as well as on our social media accounts.

And on June 18, Irene Bean, DNP, FNP, PMHNP, FAANP is inviting you to a live panel with healthcare experts, local politicians, and others. They will be discussing social injustice in America and how to move forward.

Here is the information:
Time: Jun 18, 2020, 07:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting…
Meeting ID: 810 8111 6945
Password: 676047

In the meantime, ask yourself the following questions.

  • What are the issues you see in your practice?
  • What are you doing in your practice to address these issues?
  • How are you ensuring that ALL of your patients feel safe, listened to, and valued?
  • Have you provided your staff (and yourself) with training in cultural competency, diversity training?
  •  What are you doing in your personal life to affect change around you?

I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas below or on the NPBO™ Facebook Page.

Thank you for reading this far. Next week, we will resume our usual topics related to NPs and business.

In the meantime, let’s all make a difference!

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  1. Barbara, thanks for sharing a photo of your parents! They are a beautiful couple!

    At this point, our entire culture is being hijacked. We are witnessing the unraveling of progress along many metrics, and absolute regression.

    Race is again being used to cause division and dissension…it’s a popular tactic amongst the powers-that-be, because it works so well.

    I don’t believe all whites are privileged any more than I believe all blacks are ___ or all Hispanics are ___ or all Italians are ___ or all Russians are ___ or all men are ___ or all cops are ___ – it’s prejudiced and generalizing, and it’s not helpful.

    I deeply regret that this position is seen by some as unaware, uncaring, racist, complicit, or lacking in some other way.

    People who know me and my heart, know better.

    When the conversation moves beyond prejudice and generalizations again, I would like to return to my relationships of mutual respect and collaboration (especially as “just NPs”).

    Thank you for all you’ve done for nurse practitioners and nursing!

  2. Thank you Lora. My parents were very special people…and I admit, I am biased!

    Respectfully, I can only agree with parts of your response. I agree that not everyone is privileged or racists and generalizations can be decisive. However, there is a real problem in our society at large in how we treat people and a long history of injustices experienced by people of color in this country. For our purposes, we are talking about how people are affected in healthcare. If you do a search, you’ll also find many, many articles and studies in peer-reviewed journals on racial health disparities.

    As a biracial woman, who grew up in a home where our parents taught us we are all equal, I’ve learned that is not necessarily true all the time, in all situations. I’m happy to converse more about this with you. I think it’s important that we all open our ears and hearts and listen to each other. This is not an all or none situation and unfortunately, some people do not ever look beyond the color of one’s skin.

    We’ve spoken on numerous occasions and I don’t believe you are one to blindly judge as others do. I believe though that these issues which have been doing on much longer than my entire lifetime, must be dealt with it.


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