No school, program, faculty or student is insulated from the need to develop competency in diversity awareness. From NCLEX, to the classroom, to clinical and even the student lounge, understanding how to embrace diversity and advocate for not only one’s patient but also one’s neighbor is NOT OPTIONAL.
The conversation in your environment needs to begin today. Regardless of the faculty or students’ current, past, future position/station in life, we all need to begin talking about how diversity will impact everything from the care plan to one’s career plan. “What will the nurse do when an immigration officer demands to speak to the patient?” “What will the student do when a patient says ‘I don’t want some xxxxxxx taking care of me.’” “What will the faculty do when a nursing student says ‘You gave me a bad grade because you don’t like men.’” The conversation needs to begin today. Asking these questions can help all begin to build awareness.
Ask students to share examples of comments that have impacted them. Just this week at the playground, white boys said to my daughter “You must be good at basketball” simply because she is Ethiopian. A VP of Academics said to the director of nursing “Your husband is so lucky to have such a beautiful wife.” The only black faculty member is mistaken for a cafeteria worker by a visitor. Ask questions about how to handle these and address these. Even more importantly, challenge your students to ADVOCATE for the person who is the target of such situations.
Conversations of this nature need to happen intentionally in class and FACULTY MEETINGS monthly. Nurses need to be proactive when it comes to developing Diversity IQ.
Don’t stop with just talking. Nursing is a DOING profession so faculty and students need to begin DOING today!
Can the nursing students write a letter to congress (don’t save this activity for the leadership course)? Can the students take up a collection of school supplies for disadvantaged children in the community or an immigrant family in the neighboring town? Can part of the students’ clinical hours happen at a local shelter, the VA clinic or the local food pantry for the sole purpose of serving others who are not like themselves?
If your program has few minorities, take the time/effort to put on a one night trip to an area where students can engage a group of people from a different background. For instance, a rural campus could plan a trip to a Mosque for iftar dinner (celebrates nightly breaking the fast for Ramadan). Then the next morning before returning home, the students can serve/engage youth at an innercity Boys & Girls Club or YMCA.
Have a speaker of the month in class. This speaker can be over video teleconference (eg. Skype). They can be from different organizations (eg. National Association of Hispanic Nurses - http://www.nahnnet.org/ ). Or maybe invite a nurse who is transgender and have them talk about the issues and barriers they experience.
These ideas are just here to stimulate your team in this journey. The main idea is that you are leading your students in developing their diversity IQ. You need to SAY SOMETHING and DO SOMETHING monthly if not more. Not just because it will be on the NCLEX or other exams, but because your students matter when it comes to battling everything from racism to discrimination.
Remember that all the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle (Francis of Assisi). Be a candle for your students and be that spark that will light their flames.
The Evidence Base - Helping Students of Diverse Backgrounds
Cultural Diversity Part 1: Enhancing Success to Provide a Diverse Workforce
Cultural Diversity Part 2: Successful Strategies for Developing Cultural Competence
Diversity and English Language Learners: Helping Students Succeed
The Diverse Student: Panel Discussion on Success