Faculty, alumni on racism commission

Dawson is a co-lead and Smith serving as member on National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing

Photo: Martha Dawson & Blake SmithBy Hunter Carter
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing Associate Professor Martha A. Dawson, DNP, RN, FACHE (BSN 1976, MSN 1984) and alumnus Blake K. Smith, MSN, RN (MSN 2017) are making a difference in the future of nursing, and on society, by serving on the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing.

The commission was launched in January 2021 by the American Nurses Association, the National Black Nurses Association, the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. It brings together leaders and members from these four organizations, other nursing associations, schools of nursing, other health care organizations, and non-health care partners representing a broad sector of nurses, practice sites, ethnically diverse groups and regions across the United States.

“The commission is a professional nursing commission that was organized to address racism in nursing and the lack of progress to diversify in the profession of nursing, to better represent the diversity in America, and to better meet the health care needs of our Black and Brown populations,” said Dawson, who is also president of the National Black Nurses Association Inc. “This commission’s vision is to ensure the nursing profession create an antiracist praxis and environment.”

Dawson serves as one of five co-leads, alongside the president of the ANA, the president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, the president of the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurses Association and a nurse representing a segment of indigenous populations. Dawson is also on the board of NCEMNA. In addition to the five co-leads, there are 23 other members of the commission that serve in leadership roles of major nursing organizations in the United States.

“The co-leads have an appreciation for the importance of this work,” said Dawson. “If nursing is to have a seat at the national table to address the social determinants of health, we must address racism in our own house before we can have an impact on the downstream outcomes brought about by the social determinants of health such as political policies, statutes and laws that impact housing, food insecurity, education, environmental hazards and economic inequities.”

Dawson added that the work has started with listening sessions “so we can hear the voices of nurses and their lived experiences.”

The commission will use these sessions with nurses of color to understand the impact of systemic and institutional racism. and to develop an action-oriented approach across the spectrum of education, practice, policy and research.

The commission’s overall goal is to develop scop and standards of practice to hold the nursing profession accountable and to inform other health professionals, policymakers, funders, regulators and the general public.

“The commission’s goal is to not only highlight racism in nursing, but to also be actionable about the issues within our society and to examine how we can positively impact nurses and the nursing profession going forward,” said Smith, who is president of the American Association for Men in Nursing and one of the 23 members of the commission. “We hope that the scope and standards of practice we develop helps us not only right now, but far into the future in the nursing profession in the direction that best suits all persons.”

The commission meets monthly to explore and understand the issues of systemic and institutional racism within nursing. Meetings include subject matter experts and scholars from education, practice, policy and research.  Additionally, in late 2021, the commission will host a virtual summit focused on activism and publish findings and a set of priority recommendations to address racism in nursing.

Read 366 times Last modified on September 30, 2021

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