Racism at clinical site...what to do?

Nurses Relations

Updated:   Published

I am currently in my last semester of clinical and I’m appalled at the amount of racism! On my first day of clinical I followed a nurse that made comments such as: Black people are obnoxious and loud! How could a nurse say such things! I also followed a nurse that made sure I knew, during report, that a patients husband was “colored”. Then to make matters worse, a fellow student and I followed a nurse who was taking care of a post-op patient (I do not want to mention what type of surgery) that spoke only Spanish. As we were cleaning the patient she talked about the patient! She made comments such as: Oh…she only speaks Spanish…GREAT... THEY need to learn English. She made other comments that I do not want to repeat. I guess she noticed the look on our faces and said “it’s OK…she doesn’t understand English.” She also provided poor care to the patient. She ignored her call light, never checked on her, and acted as if she did not understand the patient when she was asking for pain medication. Then, at discharge, she gave the patient English discharge papers, explained discharge instructions in English, and ignored me when I asked for Spanish discharge instructions.

I could go on and on! So my question is.....should I report this? I am biracial and take offense to such remarks and I feel really uncomfortable at clinical. Not only am I are uncomfortable but other students are noticing such remarks also. I am afraid if I report the incidents that I will be affected. I hate to say this but the majority of the hospital is this way (the hospital is in very small town). I just don’t know what to do. I HATE going to clinical.


145 Posts

That's horrible. Since you are as student I would suggest you discuss it with your instructor first. Hopefully they screw up and do that nonsense when the state inspectors are there!


28 Posts

That's appalling! Have you told your clinical instructor? I believe that would be the chain of command... Also, at the end of clinical rotations, they usually give you a form to evaluate the unit/ hospital, don't they?

ohmeowzer RN, RN

2,306 Posts

Specializes in ob/gyn med /surg.

yes you need to report this .. i would talk to my clincal instructor and bring it to the nurse manager. it's good you were there looking out for these patients.. when you become a nurse you will be a true pt advocate... please dont let this slip by .. it is disgusting behavior and needs to be handled... please keep us posted on what happens.. i would write up the incident and make a copy for you , your CI and the nurse manager... and give them each a copy.. this behavior will not be tolerated....


110 Posts

This is disgusting and you should report it. Let your clinical instructor know but in the end you will need to let someone know, everyone has a right to recieve proper care no matter their race, religeon, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation ...ect.

Oh my... what part of the country do you live in? Sometimes I'm not sure what works better, reporting something like this, or making a comment on the spot. You may "just" be a student, but don't underestimate your power as a person for positive change. Sorry you are having to experience this.


520 Posts

Specializes in LTC.

How awful ! Start with your instructor and it will go from there .I had a lady from puerto Rico who spoke only Spanish none of us speak it so we never knew what all she was saying but I used gestures and drawingsvto figure her out her dtr would interpret for us sometimes and then she just quit coming around. I just loved that lady with all my heart! Sounds like this nurse could stand to be brought down a few notches


424 Posts

Specializes in Addictions, Acute Psychiatry.

report the inbreds to top management

rn/writer, RN

17 Articles; 4,168 Posts

I'm sorry you are seeing this kind of behavior.

I'd report to your clinical instructor. She is the official liaison between you students and the facility and should be your first line of defense. The unit manager would probably be more inclined to take the complaints seriously coming from her rather than a student just because she's a person in authority and because her concern adds validation to your report.

You can also respond on the spot by saying things like, "Excuse me?" accompanied by a wide-eyed stare. Or say, "I didn't know people still thought stuff like that." Often, people shoot their mouths off because they assume that everyone shares their distorted view, especially if no one else speaks up and calls them on their rudeness.

Just one little caution. You said something about the hospital being in a small town as if that inevitably leads to a small-minded citizenry. It might, but there are many people in and from small towns who do know better. Prejudice is prejudice, no matter what flavor it comes in.


230 Posts

Specializes in ICU, CVICU, Surgical, LTAC.

I experienced racisim in clinical as well. It wasnt quite as outright as your situation but a lot of undertone comments and you could just feel it. as a fellow minority i would say something after your clinical rotation is over. you don't want to take the chance of retaliation and proving a point isn't worth risking your behind. you have worked hard to get to where you are. there are always going to be ignorant people in the world that you can't change. I personally would write an anonymous note to the manager or supervisor on the unit, or even higher (hospital administrator) and report the nurse by name. threaten to call the state in your letter and trust me that will get their attention.


246 Posts

I absolutely agree that your should report this BUT perhaps not to your clinical instructor. Hopefully you can trust your clinical instructor, but do a little research first. The only reason that I say that is because almost every clinical instructor that I had in nursing school also works / has worked in the past in that same hospital and unit. There were a few minor incidents in which I had concerns that I mentioned to my instructor, and she seemed to side with the staff, and I cannot help but feel that it could have been based on her "loyalty" for lack of better words to that staff, or that she may have had a similar mindset.


424 Posts

Specializes in Addictions, Acute Psychiatry.

Document and quote who when where what was said and maybe the last 3 or 4 numbers on the patient ID and report it to some governing facility.

I'd get out of that area; inbreeding in certain places is an epidemic and inbreeding is a choice; these souls don't choose how they're born. Or you can work there and take em to court and get the media involved....hey, call the media! LOL!

Send the white house a letter!

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