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Facing Your Biases For Better Nursing and Self Care

Facing Your Biases For Better Nursing and Self Care

The nurse role offers you a wonderful way of deepening your experience with others and yourself as you meet your self care needs. “Back in the 1980s, Salman Rushdie wrote that the defining figure of the 20th century was the migrant.” A few month’s ago the institution I work for offered a diversity training which began my awakening to my own unconscious biases. Recently combining HeartMath and a 21 day challenge to increase my experience and understanding of inclusion sponsored by Kindspring.com , I discovered that inclusion involves an intimacy with my own biases.  

Surprised to discover subtle prejudices despite having worked over 40 years with people of many cultures and abilities, I was uncomfortable and also realized that moving out of my comfort zone meant growth. Self care includes the usual physical options such as improving diet, sleep, and exercise, and taking care of emotional and mental education and well-being. More aware of personal biases, I now listen to the news differently and relate to my colleagues and patients with greater sensitivity, showing up with greater authenticity and kindness as a result.

As a nurse you are responsible for knowing, meeting and advocating for your needs. This means dealing with your fears, concerns and biases which can show up as emotional and mental attitudes that reduce the quality of your patient care. The intellectual knowledge that you are helping, can obscure subtle biases, but these times require us to provide optimum care to everyone. We all have biases, and often they are unconscious. There is evidence that when health care providers are not aware of  their biases,  they actually decrease the quality of the care provided. Hospitals and other health care organizations are now required to offer diversity training. The vision of the CMS OMH (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health) is to eliminate disparities in health care quality and access through the development, implementation and evaluation of programs and policies that incorporate the needs and voices of the populations they serve.  I encourage you to participate in diversity trainings that are offered because they can be illuminating though perhaps initially uncomfortable.

If you don’t have access to diversity trainings, you can discover some biases by honestly exploring your own thoughts and behaviors as you answer the following questions:

Do you speak about people/patients who are not like you, differently when you are in their presence as opposed to outside their hearing?

What are your feelings about a wall between the US and Mexico?

Do you offer your nursing care with an open heart?  What does being open hearted mean for you?

What are your feelings about the LGBTQ people?

What are your feelings about transgender people serving in the military?

What are your feelings about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?

Are you educated about institutional and systemic racism, oppression and white supremacy?

How comfortable are you talking about these issues with others?

You can also learn more about these topics by checking out the following on line sites:

As a nurse you protect those you care for from all forms of harm as if they are a members of your family. Remember, your inner state, your core beliefs make a difference in how you relate to the world and your work. We all act out our unconscious inclusion issues.  Nowadays, in this global community, we in fact are one human family.

If you are experiencing any discomfort, please take time to be kind to yourself and work with it. I invite you to join me in taking the 7 day Bias Cleanse in the next week.

You are welcome to join our Wednesdays
6:30-7:00 pm EST
Free Virtual Connecting Weekly Call-in for Nurses

                   Self Care for Vitality
Phone 712-432-3066          Pin 177444
On this weekly phone call there is a short guided relaxation, followed by a short time for silence
in community and optional sharing
 We present tips and strategies for Self care on a variety of topics such as:
Setting boundaries, balance, healing, self love, vulnerability, and other topics as they arise.
It’s free to all and you can join in with a share or just listen in.

Take good care of your beautiful self this week and always.
With love, Padma
 
12 comments
  • Nicole September 15, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Learning about our own biases and self-restrictions can only help us flourish as Nurses. Your list of questions are thought provoking. Thank you for delving into this topic. Sharing!

    • Padma Dyvine September 15, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      I agree 100% Nicole. As nurses we can be thought and action leaders on this topic which is really about deep healing. As we become more whole and loving towards ourselves, we radiate and share that wholesomeness with others, including our planet. Thank you for sharing~~

  • Jackie Levin September 15, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    Padma, I’m so appreciative you gave voice to looking inward at biases as part of our professional responsibility and as part of our holistic self care. This is vital and I look forward to diving into the resources here.

    • Padma Dyvine September 17, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      Nursing has always been on the frontier of caring and these times especially call us to act collectively and individually. The collective action will not happen until a large enough number of individuals are in alignment to make a collective change. I hope that you find the resources to be a good start and of course the journey is ongoing. I am so happy to be sharing this journey with colleagues!

  • Nurse Born Products September 16, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Great article, very thought-provoking. I am looking forward to exploring my own unconscious biases.

    • Padma Dyvine September 17, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      Good for you in taking this fascinating, surprising and heart opening journey to increased authenticity. I find I have to be kind to myself when I notice unconscious biases when it brings up shame and confusion. It takes time to work through some feelings and in that process, patience and kindness are very helpful.

  • Elizabeth Scala September 16, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Awareness is power. I have been working with a team of nurses on their research protocol related to implicit bias in the psychiatric emergency department. It was fascinating to learn from this group that we all have these subtle biases. That it is normal, even OK. And- that in realizing that they do exist, we can educate ourselves and ensure that we approach all patients with the same care. Great post, thanks for sharing!

    • Padma Dyvine September 17, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Yes it is normal to have biases, and when we are aware of them, the response choices we have to any given situation increase- our horizons are wider and we have greater access to compassion and wisdom. Those who go to that ED are lucky. The work those nurses are doing will have a ripple effect. Thank you Elizabeth, for sharing ways that justice and compassion are being addressed by our profession for the profession and the health care community.

  • Mariola Leja -Peden (AKA Gorska) September 17, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Building an awareness and applying it are stepping stones in self-development. There was a time, living in the USA we could live with an illusion of being different because of our economic advantage. Now, living in the USA with this self-awareness means that we are strategically capable of making changes to benefit our planet. As natural disasters gather evacuees under one roof, differences and biases are placed aside while humans one by one are forced into a line to wait for the fresh water or join the line to change their underwear cherishing the arrival of the donated package.
    Our social circle cannot be separated from the activism circle since time is of the essence. Separating these circles is not sustainable energetically. In crisis our masks fall off, “We are bare to the bone.” and we discover our common humanity.
    I loved your blog and I am sure will raise ton of eyebrows and perhaps, more importantly, open our powerful hearts.

    • Padma Dyvine September 17, 2017 at 4:31 pm

      Thank you Mariola for reminding me that the one roof is the sky we all live under, sharing the same sun, moon and stars. Initially it can feel challenging to speak up on topics of justice, which this blog was for me in this community. In the end it is very empowering and healing. The nature of increasing awareness is experiencing life in its fullness and richness and connects our hearts and minds.

  • Cassandra Herbert September 18, 2017 at 4:45 am

    Padma,

    This past Friday I was at a hospital conference and one of the topics was Implicit Bias Training. It was a powerful training because the facilitator really got us to talk about the subtle biases we have as nurses and how it can impact patient care.

    There were several nurses at the conference, who were not born in the US and who shared the prejudices they experienced as a nurse and in the US as a whole. It opened my eyes not just to my biases, but to the prejudices my international co-workers might be experiencing.
    Thank you for this post because it is something that I feel should be talked out more often.

    • Padma Dyvine September 18, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      Wow- great that the hospital was offering a training on implicit bias. It is powerful, and so interesting to discover our personal biases. The sharing among the co-workers in and of itself might have been healing or at any rate increased understanding and empathy. The current health care force has a very high percentage of international workers and the communities they serve can be diverse. It makes sense on both the human and financial levels to listen deeply and to be welcoming. Thank you for sharing about that conference.

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