Dr. Anna Maria Valdez: Leading the Charge for Diversity in Nursing

July 8, 2024

Dr. Anna Maria Valdez, past editor-in-chief of the OADN Journal, Teaching and Learning in Nursing, and a professor and the Chair of Nursing at Sonoma State University in California, has been extensively involved in national discussions about building a diverse nursing workforce. Dr. Valdez, with her background in emergency nursing and as a patient fighting Lupus, brings a unique energy and perspective to the public square.

Dr. Anna ValdezA Health Challenge and a Career Pivot

About two decades ago, Anna faced her own health battle: Lupus. While fighting the disease, she was also working 12 hour days in the emergency room. Eventually, that part of her career had to end, so she forged a new path in academia, eventually earning her PhD, becoming a professor and department chair, editor of two journals, and even a popular voice on social media.

But even as Dr. Valdez’s career evolved and thrived, her background gave her unique insight into how careers can be propelled or derailed by racism. Dr. Valdez’s mother is black and her father is white and she’s keenly aware of how different she and her father have been treated relative to her mother. She also believes that had she not been perceived as white, she might have been guided into an LVN track instead of encouraged to start her RN degree.

Making a Difference Nationally

In 2021, Dr. Valdez was invited to join the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing. As part of the Commission, she became a subject matter expert and contributed to the foundational “Racism in Nursing” report. This work has been a significant step toward understanding how the legacy of racism impacts health outcomes. The report details how the history, policies, practices, and even research within nursing is affected by the legacy of racism and racist viewpoints and expectations.  Anna was also selected to participate in the documentary feature called “Everybody’s Work“, a film sponsored by SHIFT Nursing to amplify the report and help reach a wider audience.

“At the end of the day, my goal is that for all human beings, we see their humanity. We see their basic human rights are intact and that they’re treated with dignity”

An Influential Voice on Social Media

Dr. Valdez’s impact goes beyond academic and professional circles. In both 2022 and 2023, she was recognized as one of the top 30 nurse influencers to follow on social media. Her posts reach a wide audience and keep the important conversation about anti-racism in nursing alive both online and offline.

With her dedication to anti-racism, Dr. Valdez plans to keep leading discussions on how to make the nursing profession more inclusive and fair for everyone. Her efforts are helping to shape a better future for nursing.