hey everyone! i'm not sure if i should be feeling as upset as i am but i feel like i should vent here and get some opinions on what i should do. (sorry, so long!)
my school happens to be a university that is very welcoming to international students, but is predominantly a hispanic school, in a predominantly hispanic city. i, by the way, am an american rainsed girl of nigerian decscent. i never had a issue with being "different" and as a matter of fact, i love learning about different cultures. i transferred to this school from a huge city where we are a melting pot of cultures, so moving here was definetly different. it never bothered me much at all.
this wednesday, i was in my basic skills class hearing the day's lecture on skin integrity & wound care. my professor (who happens to be of hispanic descent) was about to start lecturing. before he started, he made a comment that really bothered me (as well as other students). he said "in this chapter, there is a section that focuses on how to assess the skin of dark-skinned clients. we will not cover this section primarily because there are not many african americans that are in this population. we will focus on assessments on white and latino skin tones..."
i don't know about you guys, but i thought that was the most ignorant comment that i have heard from an "educated" person. there were 3 main reasons that i was upset:
1) there are so many ethnicities that have people with dark complexions. it is very common to find native americans, asians, middle easterners, central americans/hispanic with dark skin. the fact that only african/african americans were mentioned, ticked me off. (and besides, there are african/african american people with very light complexions, ex. vanessa williams, colin powell, etc.)
2) this is an international university, for crying out loud!!! very poor way of thinking and choice of words, imo.
3) not everybody that will graduate here willl work in this city forever. there will be patients with dark-skin tones everywhere! i, for one, will go back to my very diverse city to practice. and if i was never taught the risks of pressure ulcers and overall skin assessments in clients of all skin tones, then i will be at a disadvantage in giving my clients competent care. on the braden scale (a scale that measures the risk of pressure ulcers) people with darker skin tones are automatically given a maximum score of 18 because of the fact that signs will be a little more difficult to see. (the maximum for lighter skin tones are 23). this knowledge alone should make assessments of darker clients a priority in teaching.
i talked to my mom about it and she was dissapointed. she tells me to just "teach myself" and not to rock the boat about it. i'm not trying to stir up controversy but i feel like if we are not given the opportunity to learn how to properly care for clients with dark skin, we will be in some deep s*** if something happens with the skin integity of our client. and not learning how to assess clients with dark skin tones in nursing school will not be a good excuse to the client's family.
i emailed my concern to this professor wednesday after class, in a very professional manner. i told him that we as nursing students will be at a disadvantage if we are not trained in properly assessing the skin of dark clients, and it should be incorporated in our learning. i have yet to recieve any reply or responce from this professor. what to do?
Mar 6, '09
Your instructor should definetly be talked to about this. That was a comment made out of pure ignorance. I remember when I was in my first semester and we were learning about doing assessments for the eyes and stuff. Anyway, the teacher says " well, african american people have naturally, YELLOW scelera and thats normal for them" Than she looked at a dark skinned african american girl and yells " Take this dark skinned girl for example" I thought that instructor was kind of ignorant about the way she said it. Its sometimes not what they say but its HOW they say it that sounds even more rude and ignorant. I'm sorry you had to go through this. Good luck in nursing school though.
Mar 6, '09
I think it's vital to know how to assess everyone. There may not be many African Americans where your school is, but you should know what youre looking for. For your own teaching, ask here or google search the topic so you can educate yourself. I would definately bring up your desire to know how to assess all people to your instructor. I'm sure it wouldn't take more than a few minutes to point out abnormal data and what to look for. Please keep us posted.