The Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (OADN) is deeply disturbed by the recent deaths, tragedy, and fear that have gripped our nation because of racial injustice. The Black Lives Matter movement reinforces that racism is a threat to the health and well-being of people of color and is in fact a public health threat. Therefore, we cannot remain silent. OADN reaffirms our commitment toward the elimination of racial injustice, healthcare disparity, and violence.
Dear OADN Members:
The above statement is from the OADN Board of Directors in response to recent events in our country. As the Chief of Executive Officer, I join with the OADN Board of Directors in their commitment to end injustices against Black, Indigenous, and all People of Color. Racism fuels injustice, economic, educational, and health inequalities, and must be challenged and addressed.
As a nurse, like all of you, I stand by the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretative Statements that obligates us to be allies, to speak up against racism, discrimination, health care disparities, and advocate for human rights. As I contemplate the recent tragedies, I grapple with why in a country such as this we cannot show basic respect for each other’s differences. It saddens me to witness this type of behavior. Action must be taken.
The nursing profession is held in high regard, especially during the current COVID-19 crisis and the heroic actions of nurses in every community across our nation. Historically viewed as the most trusted profession, nursing’s fundamental roots are in public health and social mission. A “perfect” storm has confronted our nation with the pandemic, civil unrest, and economic disruption. This is not the time for us to place our heads in the sand and say it does not apply to us. OADN’s mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities, and therefore this does apply to each of us.
The current environment may feel overwhelming, so I would like to offer a simple idea. Take time to listen and communicate with one individual who is from a different background. It is a small step but an important one. Active listening creates critical steps to understanding. It is through simple, honest communication we demonstrate respect for others’ backgrounds. I reflect on my first year as a practicing nurse and the amazing patient care technician I worked with at a large pediatric hospital. There were times I did not understand certain aspects of the Black culture. Through candid conversations we helped each other recognize and appreciate our differences. Did I learn everything? No, but she did provide a dimension of deeper awareness that I am grateful for today. I realize now that what she taught me created a strong foundation for my work with the Navajos, the people of Guatemala, the Hispanic culture, and the many others who added so much to my life. These experiences enriched me beyond comprehension, and for that I am grateful.
Soon OADN will be releasing a more comprehensive statement with a call to action that we encourage all member programs and beyond to embrace. Challenging times create opportunities, and we must lead with more than words – we must lead with action!
Please stay safe and well.
Donna Meyer, MSN, RN, ANEF, FAADN, FAAN