Defying Stereotypes as a Nurse Educator and Leader
We spoke to Dr. Williams about several current NBNA initiatives, his research into levels of cultural competence among nursing students and his unique perspective as a male and minority nurse.
My father, who was an army veteran, suffered a massive stroke when he was 38 years old, which resulted in left-sided paralysis. I was in the second grade and observed the family-centered care and compassion he received from nurses for 14 years. While I was in high school, I decided to enter the nursing profession.
As a male nurse and a male nurse of color, I want to serve as a role model for all men. When I graduated from nursing school, men comprised just three percent of the nursing profession. Today, we represent 10 percent of the nursing workforce.
It surprised me how much more work needs to be done. Improving cultural competence requires a conscious effort of individuals, organizations and agencies that provide healthcare. The United States is ethnically and racially diverse, so cultural competence is essential to providing holistic healthcare services.
The ability to be open-minded and nonjudgmental is imperative. We need to meet people where they are in life. Patients thrive in environments that are nurturing and supportive. An awareness of culture-specific behaviors, beliefs and actions of minority communities will assist each nurse in the appreciation of differences within healthcare customs and norms.
In 1984, I joined NBNA as a student nurse. After attending my first conference in New Orleans, I was overwhelmed with the level of sophistication, knowledge and skills of many of the professional nurses I met. My involvement with NBNA has provided leadership and advocacy experiences for me that have allowed me to be a change agent in an ever-evolving nursing profession, as well as the ability to navigate systems of change and amplify the voice of more than 150,000 African-American nurses in the U.S.
During my presidency, we have developed many initiatives, including a Collaborative Mentorship Program, a Violence Reduction Program and a Global Health Committee. Each of these programs and initiatives plays a major role in preparing the next generation in their nursing careers and fostering their abilities to eliminate disparities that often impact communities of color.
Maintaining a conscious effort to recruit and retain diverse nurses is imperative to the success of the nursing profession. The positive impact diverse nurses have on patient care outcomes has been well-documented. Hospitals and healthcare systems can partner with academia and professional organizations to offer incentives or financial assistance to assist diverse student nurses in completing nursing programs.