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:
- Understanding Implicit bias MTV’s “Look Different” is here to help you erase the hidden racial, gender, and anti-LGBT bias. www.lookdifferent.org
- 11 ways White America Avoids Taking Responsibility for Its Racism http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/11-ways-white-america-avoids-taking-responsibility-its-racism
- 9 Phrases Allies Can Say When Called Out Instead of Getting Defensive https://blogs.lib.utexas.edu/dac/2017/06/02/article-9-phrases-allies-can-say-when-called-out-instead-of-getting-defensive/
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
Take good care of your beautiful self this week and always.