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Empowering Our Nurses

Increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nursing

As we celebrate the nursing profession with Nurses Month and the continuation of the Year of the Nurse, it is beneficial and appropriate to reflect on our history. 

Nurses have advanced the body of knowledge by shrugging off tradition and opting for research and the integration of evidence-based practice. Nurses, long considered as subordinate to physicians, now have increased opportunities to have a voice in the development of policy decisions and are considered partners in healthcare. These are the positive sides of nursing, however, no profession has a perfect history. 

Nursing has not been immune to racism, exclusionism, divisiveness, and inequities. This is a history that some nurses may be unaware of or are reluctant to acknowledge. Now, more than any other time in nursing’s history, is the time to acknowledge, investigate, and develop a purposeful trajectory to correct these issues. Today we are called to do better, be better as professionals, and to be more inclusive as a profession.

Striving for change

Reflective of nursing’s history and considering the current tragedies surrounding people of color, the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) has launched a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative to begin open and critical conversations surrounding issues of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities, age, and culture and religion. Recognizing that divisiveness, inequities, and exclusion have occurred in the nursing profession for far too long, AMSN began the work of the DEI initiative with a public pledge to end racism, and invited others to join this pledge. 

Preparations for the initiative have been deliberate, with an intention to alter the status quo by focusing on the development of competencies around DEI through self-reflection, education, and critical conversations. It will work to foster change with a multi-pronged approach involving position statements, action initiatives, and legislative measures.  

AMSN’s DEI initiative will include a certificate program, journal articles, webinars, convention sessions, and more to provide education to give nurses the tools to develop their DEI competencies. These activities will enhance nurses’ abilities to identify their own biases and those within their institutions. Reflection and conversations will reveal how these beliefs and their influence on our actions have the power to diminish our colleagues and the profession at large. 

Most importantly, the DEI initiative will promote collaboration between nurses, institutions, and stakeholders to develop solutions to combat traditions, beliefs, and practices that are exclusive, divisive, and inequitable not only for the colleagues we work with, but also the patients and communities we serve. 

Stronger together

We believe that we are stronger when everyone has an equal place at the table, so we will be collaborating with industry leaders and our legislative team to develop position statements addressing DEI. AMSN also welcomes collaboration on this initiative with other professional healthcare organizations, not only because we value the diversity of experiences and knowledge others bring to the table, but because it is the right thing to do. 

This is a journey, one that AMSN invites nurses, professional nursing organizations, and stakeholders to join us on. We don’t purport to have the answers because there is no simple fix to the inequities and exclusivity that exist today. What we do have is the willingness to stay this course, the passion to work toward change, and commitment of the entire AMSN board of directors. 

Join us; the dialogue will be interesting and uncomfortable at times, but this is how we grow. The path will not be smooth because there are roadblocks that may delay our progress, but sometimes those journeys prove to be the most interesting and have the greatest impact.

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