Recent events have highlighted the very real and personal struggle that Black Americans face on a daily basis due to racism, hatred, and bigotry. Our nation has hit a justifiable boiling point. PSNA applauds the June address “ANA President Condemns Racism, Brutality and Senseless Violence Against Black Communities” released by American Nurses Association President Dr. Ernest Grant. PSNA stands in solidarity with Dr. Grant’s statement, including: “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.”
Nurses have a strong history in the fight for civil rights and social justice, including Harriet Tubman and Pennsylvania’s own Louisa May Alcott. Nurses are educated to treat all patients with compassion and without prejudice. Nurses are also universally respected and trusted for our selfless, inclusive work to support our most vulnerable. However, the nursing community is not immune to racism or bigotry. Too often our ranks do not adequately represent the communities we serve. Too often we’ve witnessed these and other intrinsic biases and lack of diversity without acknowledging or addressing the larger issues they represent.
Therefore, PSNA commits to the following proactive steps to create change:
- Assess any PSNA-led or PSNA-supported bill for racial impact to avoid helping to create or exacerbate racial disparities
- Increase our efforts to develop PSNA’s Pennsylvania Nurses Middle College Charter School to increase diversity in the profession and ensure a sufficient nurse workforce to meet population demands
- Recruit mentors and mentees of color for PSNA’s Star Leadership Academy
- Seek opportunities to advance legislation and policies that help end health disparities based on race and ethnicity
- Work to increase representation among people of color in nursing and in our organization, including the PSNA Board and committees
- Strengthen ties with other state-based nursing organizations that represent communities of color
As nurses who strive to help others, we must recognize that we are not impervious to imperfection. Therefore, we must endeavor to do better and be better when addressing the very real racial issues in America. We must speak out when we can and listen when we need to. Please share your thoughts about how our nursing organization can be part of the solution by emailing [email protected].