Diversity in Nursing: On The Frontlines
It's not a matter of when it happens, the experience is already here. The conversation must be held and continue to be at the forefront.
When the word diversity rears its head, it grips almost everyone in the room with anxiety and conflict. There seems to always be a subtle repudication of the conversation, particularly when we think it does not affect us directly. But let's be clear, diversity affects everyone, directly. And when it comes to nursing, all care is direct care, whether for ourselves or our family members, and is directly provided by a diverse population of multidiscipline professionals. So, it is a fact, that diversity will not only affect us directly, but indirectly.
The profession of nursing has been around for over one-hundred years, although known for multiple dexterities, we are often left out of the equation when it comes to leadership, and in my opinion, largely due to a lack of diversity. Furthermore, not just leadership on a national level, but from a global standpoint. This is important to note for a number of reasons, particularly research, as nurses are the primary servers of patient education, and advocacy, which are key weapons for community health and global health. And with a lack of diversity in the areas that are underserved, coupled with a lack of access, the gap of disparities continues to grow.
How Do We Take Action? Nursing leadership must begin to make diversity a part of the agenda, not a check in the box, not a token minority on the executive squad, and not a poster board at the nurses unit. It must become a part of the professions DNA, it must become a part of our daily conversations, and experiences. For instance, if we are still holding conferences and the panel is not diverse, that organization is not only missing the mark, but they did not implement the strategy. Diversity must be intentional, not optional.
How Do We Sustain Action? It is important that Chief Nursing Officers not only take action on diversity, but build accountability with regards to managers and supervisors. And I am sure we have aspirated this point a million times. However, with doing so, we must realize that diversity initiatives succeed with a change in thought culture. And this change in thought sparks innovation, and innovation builds capacity, and capacity creates a global effect, which drives IMPACT. Let me be clear... Innovation can simply be getting rid of the wrong people.
My Leaving Thought? I am confident in the power of a diverse nursing workforce, and even more, that this power will re-define how the world views the profession of nursing. We have been unsung for too long, and largely due to a lack of diversity, but no more...A CHANGE HAS COME.