Although diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) should be a priority for organizations, a partnership between executives and nurses is needed to foster a more inclusive workforce, according to findings presented at the DNPs of Color 2022 Annual Conference held October 21 to 23, 2022, in Baltimore, MD.
In 2021, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine published The Future of Nursing 2020-2030. This document identified ways nurses could work in interdisciplinary teams to narrow disparities in health care and ultimately provide equitable patient care.
The goal of the current study was to evaluate the level of knowledge nurses have about the promotion and delivery of equitable health care programs in their community. To conduct the study, Gertrude Brown Thomas, DNP, MSN, BSN, RN, from the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, interviewed executives at a safety net hospital in Minneapolis using the American Hospital Association Equity of Care toolkit; in addition, the nursing staff and community leaders were asked about their knowledge of 2 specific DEI programs: talent garden-Black women in white coat initiative and people of color career fair.
During 1-on-1 interviews, a nurse executive and a DEI executive explained that they had done extensive work to improve health equity and reduce disparities in their community. They endorsed making hiring changes to increase representation and fostered partnerships with community members to form bridges between their center and vendors. The executives did acknowledge, however, that there remained much work to do including a need for bias training and informed care education for nursing staff.
Few Nurses Were Aware of DEI Initiatives
In the observations of nursing staff and community leaders, these individuals were found to have limited knowledge or interest in participating in the DEI initiatives. For example, few nurses of color and nurses not identifying of color were aware of the talent garden initiative (25% vs 10%), participated in the talent garden initiative (<10% vs <5%), were aware of the people of color career fair (30% vs 45%), and participated in the people of color career fair (<10% vs <5%), respectively.
Dr Thomas concluded that an unmet need remains for executives to partner more effectively with nursing staff and community leaders to make DEI initiatives part of the culture of the organization, such that disparities can be minimized to ensure the equitable delivery of health care. Dr Thomas’ next step is to interview the organization’s chief medical officer to assess DEI initiatives at an even higher level in the organization following expansion of the descriptive study to include 2 other organizations from nearby hospitals over a 2-year period.
The results of this study may not be generalizable as data were collected at a single site, Dr Thomas noted.
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Thomas GB. Partnering for health equity and reduction of disparities. Poster presented at: DNPs of Color 2022 Annual Conference; October 21-23, 2022; Baltimore, MD.