Black people make approximately 13.4% of the total population, and this is why it’s expected, statistically, that they will often be in situations where blacks are not the majority. Whether in nursing school classes or clinical rotations, it isn’t surprising to one of few nursing units.
The continuous fight and growth has marked the history of black nurses to access things like education, job opportunities, and freedom. Even while lacking formal education, black people have managed to play a vital role in healing their communities. This is not to say black people do not need formal education.
Just like everyone else, as new graduate black nurses, we are always excited to start a new nursing position at a great hospital. Despite us doing what we love-taking care of patients, we are always nervous and worried about making mistakes.
While in service, we are excited to meet the coworkers hoping that we will get along well with them. In the first few weeks, we get to find coworkers that are easy to talk to, people we are comfortable asking questions and talking to.
Moreover, on the other side, we identify those we don’t feel comfortable talking to or being around them. These are nurses that are not welcoming to new black nurses, and they seem to have a problem with everything you do. Some are passive-aggressive to you; they help others but not you. They are also welcoming to new white graduate nurses but not black nurses.
Simply, they don’t like you just because you’re black, and for some reason, these people most of the time have the power to make your life at work miserable. You try so hard to make them like you by doing everything right and being an asset in your unit, but guess what? They still won’t like you.
After a few months of trying so hard to become friendly, we always come to the conclusion that this is a race issue, and not about being a bad person. From a study conducted some time back, managers reported that black nurses experience racism from coworkers, racism from patients, discrimination, and lack of equal opportunities in the nursing industry.
An outstanding finding of the study was that the managers stereotyped the black nurses in service as people who lack motivation for promotion and professional development. Although the managers have recognized that black nurses face racism, they have failed to recognize that they are also contributors to this.
As black nurses, we must protect our mental space and that of our patients because you are responsible for their care. If the social, political, or racial climate of the workplace doesn’t allow you to perform at your best psychologically, emotionally, and physically, then it is best for you to leave.
As managers or leaders in these units, it is essential to speak up when you notice inequitable practices then follow the necessary steps to bring change. To a non-Black person or a person of color (POC), we hope this post has offered you a perspective of the experience of the Black nurse in service.
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