Nurses are committed to provide care to their patients, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political orientation, and regardless of whether they are a victim, perpetrator, drug user, sex worker, infectious, or any other possible categorization. And they do it proudly and with heart.
A nurse at a BLM protest holds a sign that says, "White coats for black lives".
Given the recent dialogue surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for racial justice, our team has been reflecting on how race can affect a nurse’s work, and what role nurses play in achieving equality. Everyone wants to see change. The big question is “How do I start to make those changes” and “What can I do to be the inclusive, respectful caregiver I want to be?”

We are reminded these days, we are all in this together. Whether it is fighting COVID-19, battling human rights, or saving the planet, it all starts with small steps – things as simple as washing your hands and keeping your distance are making a difference right now. Small actions that show respect, understanding and consideration are the way forward. For sure we can’t continue the way we have. In the inimitable words of the actress, Cate Blanchett, “The world is round, People!”

 

Fighting for diversity and inclusion in healthcare in Canada

What can you do to help fight the disparities that exist in Canadian healthcare and health outcomes? Any one of these suggestions could show how much you care and want to see positive change.

  • Reflect on your own values of inclusiveness and how you can personally develop to ensure the best care possible is delivered to all of your patients, regardless of their race.
    • How? Learn how to say hello in 5 different languages that typically present on your unit.
  • Create a nursing practice environment that embraces inclusivity and mutual respect for patients and coworkers alike.
    • How? Offer to make posters and put them up in your lunch room to remind people that support and respect for all is huge in providing care.
  • Advocate for policies that promote inclusivity and human rights for all patients, healthcare workers, and members of the community.
    • Host a pot-luck dinner and start a conversation with your peers/ friends about the events that are happening today.
  • Ensure that research is conducted in an inclusive manner, with diverse populations and their healthcare needs.
    • When involved in research, make sure you continuously assess whether your study is designed to include all populations, or if diversity could be improved.
  • Encourage your facility to assess, adopt and maintain policies that support inclusivity and human rights for all patients, healthcare workers, and members of the community.
    • How? Meet with your HR rep to learn about your hospital’s inclusivity policies.
  • Continue your education and ensure that you have inclusivity training.

 

White privilege in nursing

Nurses at a Black Lives Matter protest holding signs
We recognize that the conversation is far from over. We need to continue taking steps to move the needle. White privilege does exist within nursing. Your race has offered benefits that not al nurses enjoy if:

  • you have never had a patient make a racist remark towards you or question your competence because of your skin colour
  • you have applied for jobs without worrying whether your name will affect your chances of success
  • you have felt confident that your background is similar to that of your coworkers when entering a new job
  • you are always able to find a match for your skin colour when looking at Skin Assessment options

 

Racial discrimination in healthcare

We also recognize that discrimination does occur in Canadian healthcare, both intentionally and unintentionally. Simply put, discrimination is when a patient is treated differently because of certain characteristics, such as their race. It’s easy to dismiss the fact that racial discrimination happens frequently in our healthcare system when you support racial equality and personally value all races equally. But our healthcare system is developed on a ‘white’ backdrop, which causes us to inherently and unintentionally fail to provide care that caters to the unique backgrounds and circumstances of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC). And regardless of whether racism is intentional or unintentional, it still affects the healthcare outcomes of many patients on a daily basis, as well as their willingness to seek healthcare early on.

As a nurse, you have great potential to make an impact for BIPOC, whether they are a fellow nurse or a patient. Select Medical Connections is committed to fair, equal and effective healthcare for all patients, and fair and equal employment opportunities for our travel nurses. We would love to hear from you. Got any more ideas on how to BE the CHANGE? Please send them our way and we will continue to list them for all of our community to see.

To learn more about travel nursing in Canada, please contact us at [email protected].