Over the past month, a growing number of nursing associations have been calling upon members of the profession to take action against racism.
The first official remarks appeared the day after George Floyd’s death. On May 31, the Minnesota Nurses Association issued a press release stating that “nurses continue to see the devastating effects of systematic racism and oppression targeting people of color in our communities. We demand justice for George Floyd and a stop to the unnecessary death of black men at the hands of those who should protect them.”
The Board of Directors of the New York State Nurses Association declared, “As nurses, we mourn for the hundreds of Black men and women killed by the police every year, like Breonna Taylor, an EMT studying to be a nurse in Louisville, Kentucky.” The NYSNA called upon nurses to “fight against the bigotry, intolerance, and hate fueling current politics and feeding an armed white supremacist movement that threatens our democracy.”
This is “a pivotal moment,” according to ANA President Ernest J. Grant. In a June 1 statement, he urged US nurses “to use our voices to call for change. To remain silent is to be complicit.”
Calling racism “a public health crisis,” the Washington State Nurses Association said, “Racism has a 400 year history in America – and the hand of racism rests heavily on the health care system and public health. We know that people of color face systemic barriers to accessing health care and being listened to or heard. It is the reason African American women face higher rates of maternal death and why the burden of the coronavirus pandemic is falling more heavily on people of color. It is why African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group in the US for most cancers. It is why African Americans are almost twice as likely to die from a firearm than their white counterparts. And, it is why we as nurses must look racism in the face and call it what it is.”
The Oregon Nurses Association commented, “As nurses, it is our duty and our calling to protect and serve the health and well-being of the entire community. That duty extends particularly to people of color who are especially vulnerable in this healthcare system.” In an interview with Austin station KXAN, Dr. Cindy Zolnierek, CEO of the Texas Nurses Association, echoed Grant’s statement, saying, “This is core to our ethics. It’s human rights so we cannot stand on the sidelines. To be silent is to be complicit. So, we have a role in this. We have a role to play in advancing human rights – in advancing health care.”
The Kentucky Nurses Association released a seven-point action plan to combat racism both in the profession and in the culture at large. The plan includes goals such as “training for nurses regarding racial disparities,” promoting the “recruitment of African American nurses and other nurses of color to serve on boards and commissions and leadership positions within our organization as well as others that focus on health,” and the addition of “cultural competency training, bias training and disparity education in every Kentucky nursing school curriculum.”
The Massachusetts Nurses Association also spoke out: “As nurses and healing professionals… we recognize institutional racism and the systematic oppression of communities of color as both a crisis in public health and a pervasive obstacle to achieving the goals of our work in both nursing practice and in the labor movement.”
Other nursing organizations issued anti-racism action statements as well, including the American Academy of Nursing, the International Family Nursing Association, the Rheumatology Nurses Society, and the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.
The George Washington University School of Nursing has just received the largest philanthropic gift in the school’s history. Through the William and Joanne Conway Transitioning Warriors Nursing Scholars Initiative, $2.5 million in financial aid is being made available to help eligible military veterans working toward a BSN degree. The gift is expected to support more than 65 students over the next five years.
Donors William Conway, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, and his wife Joanne are long-time supporters of nursing education. School of Nursing Dean Pamela Jeffries commented, “The Conways’ commitment to our military veterans is unwavering, and so is ours at the GW School of Nursing. As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, it’s gifts like these that enable us to grow our veteran student population and provide the resources they need to succeed.”
The aid program will be welcomed by veterans. Despite the assistance available through military benefits such as the GI Bill, many vets still find it a challenge to support themselves and their families when they re-enter the civilian world and attempt to pursue a degree. The Conways are happy to offer a helping hand. “The Transitioning Warriors Nursing Scholars Initiative is designed to reward the brave men and women of our armed forces who seek to continue their service to our country as civilian nurses,” Mr. Conway stated. GWU President Thomas LeBlanc responded, “We are grateful to the Conways for enabling this investment when our nation’s nursing workforce and veterans need it most.”
Founded 10 years ago, the George Washington University School of Nursing is currently the sixth ranked school in the US News and World Report assessment of online graduate nursing programs. The gift was presented in May, while the school was celebrating its 10th anniversary.
For further details on this story, visit GWToday at the University website.
She may have left some male sparring partners with broken noses, but Canadian pro boxer Kim Clavel spent most of her twenties balancing pugilism with shifts as a nurse on a maternity ward. Nursing was a side-gig, though, and in August 2019 she started to fight full-time, winning the North American Boxing Federation female light flyweight title in December.
The novel coronavirus outbreak happened just as Clavel’s boxing career was ascending. As she was training for her first-ever main event in Montreal, the match was cancelled owing to the pandemic. Her intense disappointment, however, did not blind her to the urgent needs of the population most vulnerable to the virus. Clavel readily threw herself back into nursing and spent the next three months working night shifts at elderly and retirement care centers. Owing to the shortage of nurses, she often worked overtime. In an interview, Clavel told the Montreal Gazette that providing care during the outbreak was “really hard psychologically. Those old people feel alone. They’re sad. Some of them don’t understand the (COVID-19) situation, so they don’t want to stay in their rooms… We have to play nurse and psychologist at the same time.”
At the June 21 ESPYS, Clavel will receive the Pat Tillman Award. When ESPN made the announcement, Clavel stated, “It is an honor to receive the Pat Tillman Award on behalf of all the health care workers battling COVID-19 on the frontlines. Just as Pat put his NFL career on hold to serve his country, I felt the same duty to serve my community. Although recently I have pursued my dream of boxing, helping people is my passion and I’m proud to be able to make a difference.” Marie Tillman, board chair and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation, commented, “In spite of the dangers from COVID and delays to her budding boxing career, Kim chose to focus her energy on those most in need. In Pat’s name, we are honored to present the Tillman Award to Kim for her service and leadership in her healthcare work and throughout this crisis.”
For more details on Kim Clavel’s return to nursing, click here for the full story on the ESPN site.
As a single mother with a four-year-old daughter and another baby on the way, Felicia Shaner was already in a difficult position, but even after becoming homeless, this Nurse of the Week doggedly pursued her nursing studies.
Now 26 years old, Felicia began her healthcare career as a housekeeper on the staff of Easton Hospital in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, but the experience quickly fired her ambition to become a nurse. After becoming a CNA, she was determined to make nursing her career: “I was a CNA for five years, and I was seeing the nurses and thought, I don’t want to be a CNA, I want to be a nurse.”
Felicia found herself homeless just as she was preparing to take the next step and study for an LPN. Pregnant with her second child, she and her toddler moved into a shelter, then stayed at a transitional housing program for residents taking part in educational or vocational programs while she studied for her degree. Now a mother of two children, for the next 18 months Felicia combined day shifts as a CNA with night classes at the Penn State Lehigh Valley LPN program, ferrying her young ones from daycare to evening care in between.
It was hard, but she had powerful reasons for driving on: “My motivation was my kids and how much better we were going to live after this. I cried so many times during school, but the only thing I could think of was the outcome.” She adds, “I want them to know that even when you’re down, there’s always a way up. Education is crucial.”
Now living in Section 8 housing with her little family, Felicia is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as she works in an assisted-living facility as a nursing supervisor. Having attained her LPN, she’s set her sights on her next goal: in 2021, she will begin studies for an RN degree. For those struggling with similar situations, Felicia offers encouragement and advice: “If you want to [go back to school] but you’re thinking about how hard it’s going to be, you can do it. There is a way. It’s going to be stressful, but the outcome will be worth it.”
For more details on Felicia Shaner, see her story on Lehigh Valley Live.
Virtual college tours are quickly becoming a reality for many prospective students. Sure, there’s nothing that can compare to the experience of an in-person, feet-on-the-ground visit to your preferred colleges, but even before the COVID era, the cost of travel and lodging made campus visits prohibitive for many.
How much can you really learn about a college without paying an IRL visit? As it turns out, there are a variety of ways to find out what you need to know. There’s no need to travel—or invest in a virtual reality headset—to find resources that can help you figure out whether a school is a good fit for you.
First, though, do your online legwork and create a shortlist of the schools that interest you. Without taking a full-blown virtual tour, you can see the highlights of just about any college or university campus in a YouTube orientation video or on Instagram. For easy access to key data on schools, with links to their official videos and Instagram accounts, try a site like CampusTours, which provides easy access to such resources—plus virtual tours where available—along with quick information on admission requirements, tuition and degrees.
Sites like YouVisit offer a more sophisticated virtual tour—for instance, Vanderbilt’s tour includes a student guide who leads you right into their Financial Aid office, and describes their principal aid package offerings. Another student guide on their YouVisit virtual tour takes you to Kirkland Hall, where the nursing school is located. While the student relates the history of Mary Kirkland Hall, the page also provides access to maps and 360 panoramic photo displays of the interior. Already own a Virtual Reality mask? Check out the “…” icon at the bottom of the screen!
But what do most prospective students really want to find out, and what is the value of a virtual tour? Stephanie Harff, assistant vice president of marketing and recruitment at the University of South Florida, told US News and World Report that “typically students want to know five things about a college before applying: Admissions requirements, what the application process is like, the cost to attend, what majors a school offers and what campus life is like. To her, the key function of a virtual college tour is to get a look at campus life. Other questions are best reserved for the admissions office.” Another expert tip: email those questions to the admissions office. Asking questions is a great way to display serious interest and improve your chances of acceptance.
If you’re just starting to explore likely schools, before you take off on a virtual tour a good place to begin your search is the College Confidential site. For an in-depth look at the whole school selection process, see this article in Town and Country.