The Profession of Nursing Cannot Help the Public Save Itself

The American Nurses Association breaks the promise to Black Nurses.

The fact that the ANA felt compelled to succumb to membership demanding a Trump endorsement speaks to their evident position in maintaining structural racism in nursing while ignoring the moral contract made to the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1951 to represent and uphold the interest of all nurses regardless of race.

Attributes in nursing that perpetuate and sustain racism

Medical Anthropologist Evelyn Barbee in her 1993 article, “Racism in Nursing”, outlines four attributes of nursing which promote a climate in nursing that openly allows and even encourages nurses to openly avoid dealing with racism in the profession. These attributes are clearly seen employed by ANA, as they sought to endorse the Trump-supporting nursing viewpoint in the name of “balance” no matter how unethical or antithetical to nursing’s mission of social justice sacred activism and advocacy for the poor.

  1. A need to avoid group conflict — typical of white culture is the need to avoid conflict amounting to a “cancel culture” within nursing and healthcare which further denies access to care. Racist providers are allowed to terminate care or simply fire nurses that dare to go against the system. In order to avoid actually having to face discipline, apologize or improve practice when called out for racist care, the profession does all it can at every level to cancel the need to examine their own racist values.
  2. An emphasis on empathy — nurses view themselves as a caring profession therefore, how could they possibly be racist since caring is a paradigm of nursing? This attitude absolves the profession from any responsibility for examining bias in the face of caring.
  3. An individual orientation — professional standards of nursing practice hold the individual accountable for upholding and maintaining individual professional practice and individual state licensure. If the nurse is working within an organization that fails to maintain a high standard or provide nurses with the resources available for the individual nurse to perform according to the standards of professional practice, they are still held liable for any mistakes or harm to the patient as an individual. Indeed, nurses are encouraged to have individual malpractice insurance because we can be personally sued for damages. Even worse, Nursing leadership refuses to hold each other accountable to their own professional standards which leads to a culture lacking professional accountability from leadership, cohorts, or colleagues. Here we go back to the need to avoid group conflict.

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