2022 Perspective from Black #HuskyNurses
In honor of Black History Month and the contributions of Black nurses in our community we asked a few of our Black alumni, students, and faculty for their advice for future Black nurses. Specifically, we asked them to speak about the critical role nurses of color play in promoting health equity from their perspective. Here are a few of the responses:
“More than ever, we need nurses from minority backgrounds who will close the gaps in health disparities facing our Black communities. My advice to future Black nurses is to be aware of these well-documented differences in health outcomes. Your voice is just as important and can impact the nursing workplace to achieve health equity for all. Unfortunately, many people of color often lack trust in the healthcare system. My instant connection with minority patients has allowed me to build trust and achieve better health outcomes for patients of color.” – Hellen Migwi BSN 2014, FNP 2019
“One of the most beautiful and meaningful moments in my life was being cared for by a Black nurse for the first time. It changed my life and what I believed was possible for myself and young women who looked like me.
Representation matters, Black families need to see people who look like them working to improve the health of their communities. They need to know that people on their healthcare team understand some of their cultural and genetic differences.
As Black nurses, our responsibility is twofold. On one hand, …we are Black youths are proof that they too… can be a scientist and a valuable member of the healthcare team. On the other hand, we are the Black families’ hope that they can entrust their loved ones to us and we’ll fight to keep that trust.
Black nurse, you are your ancestor’s wildest dreams and proof we can do and be anything in the world including a Healthcare Warrior!” Rasheda Hatchett, BSN ’15, MN’ 19
“My advice to any future Black nurses is to keep going. Representation is such a vital part of holistic care, and we may be the only sense of comfort and trust for some of our Black and Brown patients. Also, learning to “‘lift as you climb,” ‘ because as we elevate in our careers, there is a whole generation of future nurses whose growth needs to be fostered. From one future nurse to another, we are valuable, and we are needed.” – Leah Yemane, BSN ’22
“The advice that I would give to future Black nurses is to never underestimate, “‘what’s in your bag.”‘ I learned this concept through a class exercise in my Collaborating for Health Equity class last quarter, taught by Dr. Wendy Barrington and Candace Jackson.
That exercise required us to look at our personal identity, skills, talents, and experiences – personal and professional – and understand that they are all necessary to bring when working with communities, organizations, institutions to achieve health equity.
Doing that exercise made me re-examine my identity, my experiences, the goals I aim to achieve as a nurse focused on population health and systems leadership, and how I intend to create systems-level changes to reduce disparities in racialized communities and immigrant populations.
As we move forward in our careers, we have a tendency to place more value on our professional experiences. We need to remember that our identities and life experiences are equally as valuable as our professional achievements. They shaped who we are, our decision to enter the nursing profession, and why care for the communities and populations we serve.” Samuelle (Sammie) G. Inevil DNP ’23
“Navigating the world of healthcare even with a high-ranking degree or position serves as a challenge even today. Unfortunately, there will always be some people who misunderstand you or may not have the best intentions toward you due to the color of your skin but do not let that take away the joy from you. Approaching people with HAIR (Honesty, Authenticity, Integrity, and Respect) can lessen the chance of miscommunication and can make others see your true intentions. Stay curious, be a teacher, and commit to self-care and self-love, . For you are sun-kissed with melanin and amazing everywhere.
As nurses of color, we are rewarded with an awesome opportunity to reach communities that may not be served in the most equitable way. We are able to establish trust with the communities, learn what their needs and challenges are, and can adapt a model or plan of care to serve that community in a way that will benefit it the most.
We can also use social media to dispel healthcare myths and conspiracies. We also use the platform to promote health and dispel stigmas like the stigmas on mental health. We can have crucial conversations about health disparities within the communities and explore underlying causes, and so much more.
As nurses of color, we are limitless in the number of awesome things we can do for the communities of color to promote their health.” Keondra Rustan UW School of Nursing Assistant Director-Clinical Nurse Educator Simulation