Newswise — Systemic racism has for generations undermined the health of individuals and communities across America, a public health crisis that has made the pandemic even more deadly and destructive for people of color.
Recognizing that nurses play a central role in and hold major responsibility for the health of individuals and communities hit hard by historic racial inequity, the University of Washington School of Nursing is launching the Center for Antiracism in Nursing.
“There is much work to do to become antiracist, not just as a society, but as a school, a university, a profession and a community. As the cornerstone for healthcare and advocates for the communities they serve, nurses are in the ideal position to do this work. The need to end racism is long overdue and nurses must do their part,” said Azita Emami, executive dean, University of Washington School of Nursing.
Establishment of the Center for Antiracism in Nursing is co-led by Emami and Butch de Castro, professor and associate dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the School of Nursing. To shape the new Center and determine its priorities, the school will hold listening sessions and establish an advisory committee to represent the interests of faculty, staff, students, alumni, nurse leaders, healthcare institutions, community organizations and professional associations.
“As a member of the African American community and alumnus of the school, I am hopeful the School of Nursing will become a leader, a champion, a benchmark for ending racism not only in nursing but in health care. Addressing racism takes courage,” said Joycelyn Thomas, medical director and family nurse practitioner at a Family Practice Clinic for Catholic Health Initiatives. “I believe the process of creating the Center for Antiracism in Nursing will provide a way for the school to reconcile and find resolve within its own walls that have promoted anti-blackness and white privilege. The Center will represent the first and essential steps in equity and cultivate social justice for all.”
Among the areas the center will explore are:
- Cultivating antiracist teaching practices, academic curriculum and professional development
- Promoting community-driven and partnered research
- Supporting students from underrepresented and historically excluded groups
- Applying antiracist principles to clinical practice, organizational operations and health-related policy
“As a University, we recognize the need to combat the systemic racism that results in poorer healthcare and worse outcomes for Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other communities of color. This new center is an important component of that broader effort and will significantly advance the UW School of Nursing’s work to increase equity in healthcare and health outcomes for communities of color,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce.
The school’s long-term vision for the center is for it to serve as a nationally recognized hub that transforms nursing training, practice and research as well as influences health and public policy in ways that are guided by antiracism as a fundamental principle.
Creation of the center reflects goals of the school’s broader diversity, equity and inclusion strategic action plan launched in 2016, that establishes a framework to advance diversity, equity and inclusion within learning, research and practice settings.