Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, Ph. D., MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
President, American Nurses Association
8515 Georgia Avenue, Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3492
I have just finished reading the latest ANA position statement titled “Opposing Actions that Prohibit DEI Education and Programs,” and have several concerns that I feel are important to address with you.
I am a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist with 40 years of clinical practice and I am profoundly disappointed, sickened, and frankly, aghast at the content of these statements. I am left to wonder what has become of an organization I have represented so proudly my entire career. To see the ANA engaging with radical ideologies that reject standards of quality care delivery in favor of identity politics is disturbing. In my own state, the Kentucky Nurses Association hosted one of the most inflammatory and discriminatory courses I have ever seen with its “implicit bias curriculum,” complete with some very shocking photos and graphics with racist concepts.
Among the core values put forth by the ANA is the following: “We are creative, nimble, open to change; we will never stop striving for excellence.” The DEI position statement is in direct contradiction to this stated value. It strips every nursing academic body of the ability to identify the best and brightest candidates for nursing careers based on merit, achievement, and aptitude. A selection process that ignores candidate qualifications and emphasizes provider selection based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and alignment with divisive ideologies does not support a concept of excellence.
To make matters worse, corporate human resource department policies often shield organizations from the threat of an unlawful termination lawsuit – and subsequent bad press – instead of policing for patient safety. Is the sacrifice of standards of excellence in the name of DEI worth the risk of harm? Adding more marginally prepared nursing staff to an already compromised healthcare environment does not inspire confidence in the profession from those who place their trust in us, and backing the divisive tenets of diversity, equity, and inclusion are only eroding that trust even further. Plus, lack of skill and talent will serve to negatively affect these nurses’ careers and future employability.
Administrators and policymakers in the ANA are often removed from the realities we in clinical practice face every day, especially when dealing with novice nurses. My experience, and that of several of my peers in the education and professional development fields, has shown that these new grads often arrive on the unit with very limited clinical skills, ability to problem-solve, or competence in communicating with their patients. A lack of appreciation for or understanding of the traditional nursing mission, often accompanied by a poor work ethic and an attitude of entitlement. Definitions for microaggressions and constructs like implicit bias are readily verbalized while the five rights for medication administration are lost concepts. Institutions now provide “safe rooms” for the nursing staff to escape the stresses of the hospital environment, where they are given coloring books and crayons to ease their anxieties. Some have even had their mothers complain to nursing supervisors that their child isn’t being treated fairly or needs “special accommodations” to perform their patient care assignments. In contrast to your vision, I assure you that “lumps of clay” cannot be molded, cajoled, and otherwise created to become competent, professional nurses when their limited didactic training is used to indoctrinate them with radical ideology.
It’s clearly one thing when major American companies make it known to the public that woke ideology drives their business models. Customers can select a different beer, choose to shop at a different store, or decline purchase particular products. But it’s a very insidious, dangerous, and deceptive mission to cover up this new woke nursing practice model that is certain to negatively impact patient care without revealing your discriminatory and divisive bias to patients. To take the once highly respected and trusted nursing profession to such levels of destruction baffles me. What price is the ANA willing to pay to betray generations of nurses and destroy our standards of practice? Discarding the nursing science that embodied truth and robust examination for destructive ideology in the name of DEI is a poor exchange that is fraught with detrimental consequences for the profession that I, and countless other nurses, have loved and given our lives to.
Dr. Kennedy, the nursing profession will suffer the detrimental consequences of these actions by the ANA long after you and I are no longer practicing nurses if you do not take action to reverse course on the divisive concepts currently being endorsed by the organization. Our profession has long been the most trusted among the public, and taking a stand on issues that are aimed at dividing us risks losing the trust of individuals we have taken an oath to protect from harm. It is time to get DEI out of nursing education rather than explicitly endorsing it.
Rebecca Wall, CRNA, MSN
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