Recently, the world was shocked and outraged at the brutal killing of George Floyd. The incident exposed in a clear and unmistakable way what many people of color and their allies have been complaining of for centuries in the United States.
This incident captured on video, has led many to scrutinize the justice system and more importantly, to do some sincere self reflecting, recognize their privileges and acknowledge how their actions or inactions contribute to the systemic injustices pervasive throughout society.
As healthcare advocates and trusted members of the community, nurses must take an active and vocal stand against racism.
Make no doubt about it – racism is a matter of public health
Culture of Silence
One reason attributed to police brutality is the “culture of silence” in which police officers fear retaliation for reporting inappropriate behavior. The fact of the matter is that, any profession is capable of developing a culture of silence, even nursing. However, just because something is capable of happening does not justify it happening. A perceived culture of silence in nursing, or anywhere else, cannot be used to rationalize police brutality.
Simply stated, injustice cannot be humanized
Nursing and policing are noble professions that serve the public, yet nursing continues to be rated the most trusted profession year after year. This disparity presents an opportunity for policing to learn from nursing.
Oversight and Transparency
One of the main concerns that social justice activists and people of color have against the culture of silence in law enforcement is the lack of independent oversight – a system where the “police are policing” themselves. Nurses are well familiar with concept of oversight. Oversight can come from within the employing organization – preceptors, charge nurses, nurse managers, doctors, upper management, corporate headquarters and so oh. Oversight can also come independently from third parties including patients’ families, the Board of Nursing, Federal Government, the Joint Commission and other various regulatory agencies. Not only do some of these agencies have the ability to follow up on credible anonymous information while protecting whistleblowers from retaliation, they also perform random and scheduled audits, have the authority to revoke licenses, certifications and withhold funding.
Police brutality must not be simplified as a human condition. Racism must not be rationalized or accepted as an explainable ailment of society. As patient advocates, nurses have a responsibility to take an active and vocal stand against this public health issue and to be an example on how to serve the public and earn its trust.
As a clinical support tool company working to improve nurses’ workflow and improve patient outcomes through clear and concise communication, we at SBAR App unequivocally affirm that that “communication is vital, racism is not.”