How ENA is Advancing the Conversation
September 25, 2020 • Advancing the Conversation Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity ENA
The following is a message sent on Friday to all ENA members from ENA President Mike Hastings
How ENA is Advancing the Conversation
Earlier this month during the 2020 General Assembly and EN20X, I spoke about the challenges ENA and emergency nurses have faced this year.
While we have achieved much in spite of those challenges, it's no secret there remains a long road ahead and a tremendous amount of work to be done on so many fronts in this country - particularly when it comes to race.
Over the last few months, ENA has placed the issue of systemic racism at the top of its priorities. The association embarked on a long-overdue assessment of the issue’s prevalence and how it can better understand the problem in order to bring meaningful actions forward that have the ability to affect change in the emergency nursing community and society as a whole.
Emergency nurses have always been part of the safety nets in our communities. We care for those who have no place else to turn to because of health care inequity and socio-economic disparities. Those patients represent every race, religion, cultural background and many other unique populations – and we do not hesitate to give them our best when they step into our ED.
But, just because we serve diverse patients, does that mean we are embracing diversity or truly understanding what it means to be inclusive? Does that mean we have fully accounted for things such as implicit bias which can cloud our perspectives and result in disparate care?
There are no easy answers because addressing social and racial injustice requires emergency nurses to ask difficult questions, reflect individually and collectively, and dedicate ourselves to ensure that the care we provide is equitable. In June, I wrote about ENA’s commitment to take meaningful steps to advance the conversation on these topics – here’s a look at what we’re doing now:
- Earlier this week, ENA debuted its “Member Conversation Circles: Discussion of Diversity and Inclusivity” program. These hour-long virtual sessions are designed to bring nurses together with their peers to talk through their experiences with diversity and inclusion. The next session is scheduled for Oct. 5. Check out the ENA Huddle for registration information.
- On Oct. 8, ENA will host "EN20X Encore: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion" which features five hours of educational sessions focused on topics such as unconscious bias in triage, the effect of social determinants in ED care, caring for LGBTQI+ patients and how race and racism impact nursing knowledge. Watch for more information next week about this exciting day of learning.
- Speaking of education, ENA is offering two new courses dedicated to diversity, equality and inclusion topics: "Structural Racism in Health Care" and "Understanding the Impact of Bias and Stereotypes in Healthcare." Visit the Education page on our website to learn more and register for these courses which will be available beginning Oct. 8.
- The ENA Board of Directors, which has created its own diversity subcommittee, recently approved the formation of a standing Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity Committee. This follows the year-long efforts of the Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity Work Group to explore ways to expand the representation and voice of under-represented groups within the association’s membership. Applications for the Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity Committee will be accepted through Oct. 9, so apply today if you’d like to volunteer for this new opportunity.
Not everyone believes these steps, or any extra attention, are needed in these areas – but I do. My personal experiences and awareness of what is happening around our country make it painfully obvious how much work we have to do. I invite you all to join us on this journey to make a difference.
Months ago, I made it clear ENA wasn’t going to pay lip service to these important issues. We weren’t going to denounce racism and then fade away; we were going to be thoughtful and take the time needed to determine our actions and find the ways to do better and be better.
That progress can only be made when people come together for the purpose of understanding. Dialogue is needed no matter how uncomfortable it might make us feel. Although not everyone will see eye-to-eye on these topics, we should agree to be openminded and willing to consider different viewpoints respectfully.
There is nothing easy about addressing systemic racism and the overall inequities faced by many people. Quite honestly, we will not be successful unless we are willing to be vulnerable as we look within ourselves, within the association and from the health care system perspective to understand how we can make positive change.
ENA values learning. Our mission inspires us to show compassion. We can do that by confronting our misgivings, opening our minds and respectfully embracing others who have faced disadvantages and discrimination.
It will truly take all of us to continue to drive for the change our country needs to combat racism and hatred. I know we – ENA coming together as one – can make a difference that benefits our profession, our patients and our association today and for years to come.