Shawnetta Newburn, BSN, RN
My name is Shawnetta Newburn I recently graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Before receiving my degree, I worked in healthcare for over 18 years in many different roles. Unfortunately, I have seen many patients experience discrimination in healthcare. When I started in this field, I was a young, wide eyed nursing assistant that thought I would change the world. All I wanted to do was become a Registered Nurse and help as many people as I could. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues didn’t have the same idea. Now don’t get me wrong, most of the people I worked with were good people and came into healthcare with good intentions. But of course, there are a few that don’t seem to really care. Some may say this can equate to health care workers being overworked and burnt out. In most cases this is the case. We all know that when health care workers are burnt out, they tend to not be as compassionate with their patients as they should. This can definitely lead to patients feeling overlooked, mistreated and, in some cases, neglected.
I am unsure if this is the case or not, but statistically most minority patients, specifically those of color are, usually the ones that end up being on the receiving end of the abuse (Bulatao & Anderson, 2004). I know firsthand how these patients feel, being a black woman, I have suffered discrimination in healthcare myself. Also, as a health care worker I have witnessed staff stereotyping certain patients based on demographics, color of skin and even certain conditions or ailments that people of color may have a higher percentage in. As health care providers we need to make sure that these patients know and understand their rights. We must advocate for what’s best for all our patients and pay close attention to the underserved. When I finished nursing school, we had to recite a pledge to not harm our patients and to practice with dignity (Epstein & Turner, 2015). We also pledged to not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, or social standing to intervene between our duty and our patients (Epstein & Turner, 2015). That is, the nightingale pledge for nurses but as healthcare workers we can all make a similar pledge to keep all our patients safe and promise to advocate for them despite their circumstances.