As the voice for Ontario’s registered practical nurses (RPNs), we are committed to fostering a culture of inclusivity, equity and empathy within our profession.
This summer, during a gathering of the International Congress of Nurses (ICN) in Montreal, I had the honour of hosting a concurrent session focused on racism in nursing. Going into the discussion, I hadn’t anticipated the impact of this important open dialogue among our global nursing community.
The ICN conference brought nurses from 145 countries together to share experiences, insights and learn from one another. The agenda was packed, which meant (in my view) that the important discussion about equity, inclusion and racism in nursing had not received the attention it needed. The overwhelming interest in this session made it evident that racism in nursing remains a pressing issue that demands immediate attention and collective action.
One key takeaway from this discussion was the recognition that racism takes various forms within healthcare systems around the world. Each country has its own unique experiences, with different groups of people experiencing challenges in multiple ways. We must create a platform for all nurses to be heard and for every story to find a voice.
As nursing leaders, we are responsible for creating inclusive spaces for all nurses, regardless of background. We need to establish more support and protocols to respond to racism or discrimination in the workplace. We must develop comprehensive strategies that empower everyone to challenge injustices and ensure a compassionate and inclusive work environment for all.
As nurses and change-makers, we must make space for these conversations. Talking about racism in nursing is not optional but an integral part of our nursing journey.
Let us recognize the power we hold as nurses to challenge prejudice, advocate for change, and create a world where everyone feels valued and respected. I urge you to pause, reflect and engage with the experiences shared herein. We must strive to learn, unlearn and relearn to help build an environment that champions empathy, understanding and inclusivity.
As we scratch the surface of awareness, let us acknowledge that there is much work to be done. This is just the beginning of a transformative journey towards a more equitable and just nursing profession. I implore you all to embrace this call to action, for it is only through collective effort that we can create meaningful change.
Together, I know we can foster compassion, understanding and unity to build a brighter and more inclusive future for all nurses.
Dianne Martin, RPN