The state of Iowa has a legacy of common-sense principles. Unfortunately, one needs to look no further than the University of Iowa – and especially the College of Nursing – for a heavy dose of woke ideology.
Do No Harm obtained documents from some of the university’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training materials on “Social Justice;” “Practicing Pronouns;” “Oppression;” and “Barriers to Inclusion.” References to phrases such as “the system of oppression,” “fae/faer/faerself,” and “guilt is the glue that holds prejudice in place” prompted us to take a closer look at their other DEI endeavors. While exploring the school’s webpages, I readily found more concerning information within the nursing education program.
The University of Iowa College of Nursing (UICON) places its DEI initiatives front and center for website visitors. Unfortunately, that’s not unusual for major universities in states that have not taken legislative measures to remove DEI offices from higher education. But the UICON goes beyond the ubiquitous bias resources and DEI models.
While reviewing the IUCON’s DEI pages on August 3, 2023, I located one specific item that was particularly eye-catching: UICON’s Anti-Oppression Statement, which includes the following excerpts:
Across this nation there has been an increase in acts of hate (ex. racism, xenophobia, transphobia, sizeism, heterosexism, religious oppression) in the form of threats, harassment, bullying, body shaming, intimidation, assaults, scapegoating, discrimination, injuries, vandalism, violence, and death for members of the Asian, Jewish, Latino, African American, transgender, plus size, and immigrant communities.
We cannot ignore the fact that hate is the fuel that is perpetuating divisive sentiment, bias, discriminatory behavior, and hate crimes.
We recognize the physical, emotional, and traumatic impact that these acts of hate and injustice may be having on our students, their families, and our colleagues who may represent these diverse identities that enrich our overall American culture.
The University of Iowa College of Nursing emphatically denounces all forms of individual and systemic social injustices, including all forms of overt and covert oppression.
In our efforts to achieve the highest level of excellence in nursing education, research, practice, and service, the College of Nursing is committed to an anti-oppression/social justice approach that continuously examines the processes that repeatedly advantage and develop the potential of one group over another. We are committed to condemning all forms of oppression and we support education, policies and practices that advocate for and implement equity and social justice for all people, including reducing disparities in the delivery of high-quality and culturally responsive health care.
We ask our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and members of our UI and global health sciences communities to join us in advancing health, igniting leadership, and engaging in educational partnerships and practices with diverse communities that dismantle all forms of hate.
However, a September 5 visit to the webpage that previously contained the Anti-Oppression Statement produced an error message:
Turns out it wasn’t a change of heart: just a modest change of messaging. Much of the same information has now been placed into the College of Nursing Humanity Statement, including these excerpts:
The University of Iowa College of Nursing values different backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences across the lifespan. The resources you see listed on this site are available for everyone to use. Our College is a microcosm of the larger American community and experience. We strive to celebrate our similarities and embrace and learn from our differences through civil and reciprocal discourse that respects everyone’s right to freedom of expression. It is our goal to provide a welcoming, inclusive and accessible environment for everyone in our college and our profession. We know our work today will graduate tremendous future nurses and build safer and healthier communities where everyone belongs and is valued, needed, and appreciated.
However, we also recognize the physical, emotional, and traumatic impact that acts of bias, discrimination, misconduct, and hate may have on our students, their families, our healthcare colleagues, and our patients who may be representative of diverse identities and/or diverse perspectives that enrich the tapestry of our vibrant American culture.
The College of Nursing emphatically denounces all forms of bias, discrimination, misconduct, and hate. We strive to hold our faculty, staff, and students accountable for our attitudes, actions, and words as we uphold the tenets of the College’s Seven Pillars of Diversity.
In our efforts to achieve the highest level of excellence in nursing education, research, practice, and service, the College of Nursing is engaged in education, policies and practices that advocate for and implement equity and social justice for all people, including reducing disparities in the delivery of high-quality, ethical, and culturally responsive health care to improve patient outcomes.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics guides nursing practice and states that all patients will receive nursing care no matter their background, resources, or situation. The ANA recognizes bias, discrimination, misconduct, and hate as a longstanding public health crisis contributing to inequities impacting mental, spiritual, and physical health and well-being. The ANA seeks to strengthen the nursing profession by increasing intellectual diversity and inclusive leadership while striving to establish anti-discrimination nursing practices and environments.
We ask our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and members of our UI and global health sciences communities to join us in working to dismantle all forms of inequitable care by advancing health, building healthy work and educational environments, empowering leadership, and fostering innovative partnerships and practices with a broadly defined diverse group of colleagues and communities that welcome and utilize the perspectives, talent and contributions of all.
The University of Iowa College of Nursing is more than a college – we are a community that cares for all.
While reducing the level of hyperbole is a positive adjustment to the statement, the addition of statements from the American Nurses Association that describe concepts regarding discrimination and hate is not. As we have previously reported, the ANA has moved far beyond its original mission of advocating for nurses and is fully entrenched in extreme ideology.
Last year, Do No Harm obtained documents from the University of Iowa in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Those documents exposed the UI medical school’s practice of training members of the faculty hiring committee in the concept of implicit bias. The training also provided instruction in hiring strategies based on advancing DEI instead of recognizing individual achievement when reviewing faculty candidates. Even so, the school has maintained entries on its website like the “Black Lives Matter at School – Iowa Teach In” event and the Anti-Racism Resource Guide.
Why is all of this bad for nursing? Spending the limited amount of time available to train students in ways to become skilled and competent nurses on topics that do nothing to achieve that objective is the obvious response. But the downstream effects on the profession as a whole are less visible, and they can be significant.
In my role at Do No Harm, I receive incoming messages from other nurses who are frustrated with the seemingly endless barrage of DEI training they are encouraged – and in some cases, required – to complete. They are insulted by ideological concepts pushing group identity politics being imposed on them in the name of continuing education. Some are close enough to retirement that they choose to give up nursing completely. Others, like Clete Weigel in Ohio, are forced out. These instances have resulted in the loss of highly experienced nurses in a time where the entire industry continues to sound the alarm about a critical U.S, nursing shortage.
It’s time for the University of Iowa to discard its commitment to divisiveness and dogma and provide the type of quality education that future nurses and physicians need. Their fellow Iowans (and future patients) care about the level of skill and talent of their healthcare professionals; not their knowledge of obscure pronouns and dedication to social justice activism.
Laura Morgan is a registered nurse and Do No Harm’s program manager.
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