Racism in Nursing: Is It Real?

Published
by jeastridge jeastridge, BSN, RN (Trusted Brand)

Specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

Racism is still a part of nursing just as it is in society in general. And it is still hard to talk about. But by sharing with one another, maybe we can gain new insights. Let's listen and learn.

You are reading page 2 of Racism in Nursing: Is It Real?. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

You can only talk about racism to those willing to listen, understand and care.

jeastridge, BSN, RN

Specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN). 131 Articles; 558 Posts

5 hours ago, Workitinurfava said:

You can only talk about racism to those willing to listen, understand and care.

Well said. Thank you. Joy

jeastridge, BSN, RN

Specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN). 131 Articles; 558 Posts

On 7/20/2020 at 8:52 PM, BSNbeDONE said:

I have experienced all sorts of prejudices...it just so happens that I'm a nurse. Here is my list:

1: At my current employment, there is a black female physician who refuses to talk with black nurses. (The joke's on them: less work for me to do). In contrast, there is a white nurse manager who want talk to anybody, black or white.

2. I drive a high-end vehicle. When I took it to be serviced, the salesman (black man) automatically assumed I was looking for the Hyundai dealership. I told him that I hope he doesn't get paid on commission because with an assumption like that, he would have lost that sale.

3. I had a black patient who refused to let me start his IV. He sat there and endured 5 or 6 sticks from the white nurse before she convinced him to let me put the darn thing in. (One and done!). He apologized...good thing he wasn't a mind-reader.

4. My very first nursing instructor all but failed me on my starch and creased, snow-white uniform, while my white counterpart aced her wrinkly, dingy, raggedy uniform, calling it "constructive criticism".

5. The list is too long to detail the preferential treatment between staff nurses over agency/float nurses, and the utter disrespect I received as an LPN.

6. But I will admit, no one has ever bluntly displayed acts of racism to my face (other than that very first nursing instructor), unless those types of people have become so transparent over the years that ignoring them has become as automatic as breathing.

For some reason, I've had more encounters with reverse "prejudices" than anything. Maybe it's because I'm an introvert and don't get out much; maybe it's how I present myself (so I've been told) in that I have a today-ain't-the-day look most of the time...I don't know. I personally think I am as sweet as they come.

Love your last line. It made me smile. Everyone's experiences are their own and everyone's feelings are their own. We can only hope to be able to listen to one another better and learn from each other. Thank you for sharing. Joy

jeastridge, BSN, RN

Specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN). 131 Articles; 558 Posts

9 hours ago, herring_RN said:

I would like to tell about how a colleague of mine became a hero.

One night I was CCU charge nurse and assigned the only other IABP certified nurse on the shift to a patient requiring an intra aortic balloon pump (IABP). The patient had been vacationing when he had an MI. The IABP was mostly to keep his coronary arteries open until morning when he would go to the OR for a CABG.

I heard loud voices from the room. It was the patient loudly telling his family he would not let a "colored" person in the room. His adult children said there Dad was "Old School Southern". I told the truth saying, "I'm the charge nurse. She is the only available nurse who is an expert on the machine you need to stay alive. I promise you will have expert nursing care." He finally told his kids to leave and he agreed to "let" her care for him.

I made rounds on him often. Once when I looked in she was shaving him as ordered by the surgeon. She said to him, "You are lucky I like you. If I didn't I would pull the hair out when I take these electrodes off." He actually began teasing her and smiling.

In the morning when they came to take him to the OR he asked her to go with him. She was already going to as we gave in-person report to the OR nurse. Then he said to me, "Be sure to have her take care of me after surgery. I was so pleased and proud of my friend and of the patient too, but told him he would go to a post surgical ICU and be assigned an RN expert at caring for people after open heart surgery.

The next night we went to visit him. He thanked her. His kids were thankful too.

PS: I was an LVN for many years before earning my RN. Fortunately most coworkers were respectful and I respected them too.

What a great story. Perspectives and prejudices are changed one person at a time. One story at a time. Legislation and laws can only take us so far. The heart changes are harder...Thank you for sharing with us. Joy

simba and mufasa

Has 18 years experience. 5 Articles; 59 Posts

Hi jeastridge, BSN, RN

Thanks to such a timely topic, its interesting reading from the other sides point of view. I was smiling as I was reading the comments, racism is everywhere, but what can we do as nurses to make it an equal playing field. How can we make the situation better. Bravo!

simba and mufasa

jeastridge, BSN, RN

Specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN). 131 Articles; 558 Posts

7 hours ago, simba and mufasa said:

Hi jeastridge, BSN, RN

Thanks to such a timely topic, its interesting reading from the other sides point of view. I was smiling as I was reading the comments, racism is everywhere, but what can we do as nurses to make it an equal playing field. How can we make the situation better. Bravo!

simba and mufasa

Thanks for your comment. Yes, many of us are looking for ways to examine ourselves, our own attitudes and how we might need to change. I'm glad it made you smile! Joy

thebratpack

thebratpack

8 Posts

This is a rather vague/rambling comment, but a lot of times I feel like my white counterparts got into the specialties they wanted right out of nursing school, but this wasn’t the same for me. Even though I am grateful to have a nursing job and work in an SNF/LTC, it feels like I’m the only one and I face a LOT of criticism from those that don’t understand. I get called lazy and unmotivated which could not be the furthest from the truth. Hospital jobs don’t count my experience as “real experience”, and I am black and a lot of my coworkers are black too and sometimes discreetly I think it’s a way of trying to “shut out” black nurses from being a part of the staff. My mom used to be the only black nurse on her hospital unit. During clinical rotations in hospitals sometimes there were one or two black nurses, and oftentimes there were none.

jeastridge, BSN, RN

Specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN). 131 Articles; 558 Posts

On 7/21/2020 at 8:14 PM, thebratpack said:

This is a rather vague/rambling comment, but a lot of times I feel like my white counterparts got into the specialties they wanted right out of nursing school, but this wasn’t the same for me. Even though I am grateful to have a nursing job and work in an SNF/LTC, it feels like I’m the only one and I face a LOT of criticism from those that don’t understand. I get called lazy and unmotivated which could not be the furthest from the truth. Hospital jobs don’t count my experience as “real experience”, and I am black and a lot of my coworkers are black too and sometimes discreetly I think it’s a way of trying to “shut out” black nurses from being a part of the staff. My mom used to be the only black nurse on her hospital unit. During clinical rotations in hospitals sometimes there were one or two black nurses, and oftentimes there were none.

I hear you and I believe you. And I am sorry. I hope and pray and want to help work toward making things better.

Nurse Tea

Nurse Tea, BSN, RN

Has 4 years experience. 8 Posts

I have many stories but I’ll cut it down to a few so you’ll get the picture. A little background is that I’ve been an LPN for 2 years and I’m currently a BSN student in the central Illinois area.

1. When I was at clinical last week, I was having a conversation with the nurse at the desk (she is white) and she’s telling me a story about her grandfather’s funeral. She tells me that her husband is half black and half white as well as his sister. Her mom hates the sister in law’s eyelashes that she wore while attending the funeral. Random right? Apparently the sister dresses inappropriately to functions. Well she goes on to make a comment saying “Man my husband thinks he’s white, but his sister got more of the other side you know, the ghetto side”. I think at that point she looks at me and realizes that what she was implying was very inappropriate.

2. I’m an agency nurse so I’ve worked all over central Illinois in long term care facilities. The majority of the residents are usually white. So, on multiple occasions the CNAs on my shift are white and will come get me when the resident is asking for the nurse. When I walk on the resident says I’d like to speak with the NURSE. I let them know I AM the nurse. They ask me if I’m sure I’m the nurse. ?

3. When I was doing my medpass, a lady asked me when they started letting CNAs give out medicine.

4. When I walk into new facilities the nurses ask if I’m the CNA. (My badge says LPN)

5. I’ve been asked how I grow my hair. I’ve been asked if I work in the kitchen. Oftentimes, people just never consider that I could be the nurse.

6. When I worked in the hospital, I was the only black nurse on the unit on night shift. I was pulled into the office and told that I was doing great at my job but my peers felt as though I wasn’t very warm and welcoming and maybe I had an attitude. My coworkers always smiled and takes to me when I worked so this was news to me.

7. In lab one day, one of my classmates asked me if I had kids and I said I have one. She then goes on to talk about how hard it must be to be a single parent. I’m married......

I just want to point out that as a black female, I am always accused of having an attitude because my eyebrows are “too” arched or I’m not smiling enough so I’m angry. I make a conscious effort to make sure my facial expressions are pleasant and I typically keep a calmer demeanor than most so that people don’t think I’m aggressive. These examples are just a few and may even seem minuscule but when everyday consists of these things, it gets exhausting.

corinthia1

corinthia1

Specializes in MSN, APRN. 1 Post

What does listening really mean? Seems like we’ve been on a listening tour since Florence Nightingale started nursing. Active listening should lead to compassion and then action. Simple put, show us the same respect that you expect to receive, pay us the same salary that you pay the white nurse with similar qualifications and when you are in charge let your nurse assignments be the proof that you’ve listen.

Not asking for much, see color because we see your color. Treat us like you would want to be treated.

jeastridge, BSN, RN

Specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN). 131 Articles; 558 Posts

On 7/22/2020 at 11:12 AM, Nurse Tea said:

I have many stories but I’ll cut it down to a few so you’ll get the picture. A little background is that I’ve been an LPN for 2 years and I’m currently a BSN student in the central Illinois area.

1. When I was at clinical last week, I was having a conversation with the nurse at the desk (she is white) and she’s telling me a story about her grandfather’s funeral. She tells me that her husband is half black and half white as well as his sister. Her mom hates the sister in law’s eyelashes that she wore while attending the funeral. Random right? Apparently the sister dresses inappropriately to functions. Well she goes on to make a comment saying “Man my husband thinks he’s white, but his sister got more of the other side you know, the ghetto side”. I think at that point she looks at me and realizes that what she was implying was very inappropriate.

2. I’m an agency nurse so I’ve worked all over central Illinois in long term care facilities. The majority of the residents are usually white. So, on multiple occasions the CNAs on my shift are white and will come get me when the resident is asking for the nurse. When I walk on the resident says I’d like to speak with the NURSE. I let them know I AM the nurse. They ask me if I’m sure I’m the nurse. ?

3. When I was doing my medpass, a lady asked me when they started letting CNAs give out medicine.

4. When I walk into new facilities the nurses ask if I’m the CNA. (My badge says LPN)

5. I’ve been asked how I grow my hair. I’ve been asked if I work in the kitchen. Oftentimes, people just never consider that I could be the nurse.

6. When I worked in the hospital, I was the only black nurse on the unit on night shift. I was pulled into the office and told that I was doing great at my job but my peers felt as though I wasn’t very warm and welcoming and maybe I had an attitude. My coworkers always smiled and takes to me when I worked so this was news to me.

7. In lab one day, one of my classmates asked me if I had kids and I said I have one. She then goes on to talk about how hard it must be to be a single parent. I’m married......

I just want to point out that as a black female, I am always accused of having an attitude because my eyebrows are “too” arched or I’m not smiling enough so I’m angry. I make a conscious effort to make sure my facial expressions are pleasant and I typically keep a calmer demeanor than most so that people don’t think I’m aggressive. These examples are just a few and may even seem minuscule but when everyday consists of these things, it gets exhausting.

I don't even know what to say. All my words are stuck and inadequate and sad and --well, just wrong. I am so sorry for all that you have experienced. I want to be hopeful but my own past convicts me. Thank you for sharing your story. Joy

jeastridge, BSN, RN

Specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN). 131 Articles; 558 Posts

2 hours ago, corinthia1 said:

What does listening really mean? Seems like we’ve been on a listening tour since Florence Nightingale started nursing. Active listening should lead to compassion and then action. Simple put, show us the same respect that you expect to receive, pay us the same salary that you pay the white nurse with similar qualifications and when you are in charge let your nurse assignments be the proof that you’ve listen.

Not asking for much, see color because we see your color. Treat us like you would want to be treated.

You nailed it. Yeah. Listening without action is polite and can be just as racist. Your actions reflect what real change looks like: respect, equality in assignments and pay. It's the bare minimum. Thank you for your insightful comments. Joy