In celebration of Black History Month, Dr. Tracey Johnson-Glover, Assistant Professor in the Touro University Nevada School of Nursing, spoke with TUNews about being a Black nurse, and the importance of representation and diversity in health care.
In addition to working as a full-time faculty member, Dr. Johnson-Glover works as a NICU nurse one day a week at St. Rose-San Martin Hospital. She recently graduated with her PhD in Transcultural Nursing from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
“I feel a great sense of pride to be in the field of nursing and I feel privileged to represent Black nurses. There are approximately 279, 600 Black nurses in the United States, which is about 9.9% of the total of all nurses. However, African Americans represent about 12.8% of the general population. Black nurses, like any other healthcare provider, are charged with serving and caring for everyone without bias.
However, research suggests most people, regardless of socioeconomic status, prefer to be seen by providers who intrinsically understand their cultural differences and look like them. They feel they can honestly share their health concerns, and the provider will understand. This understanding translates to trust, and trust transcends to actively participating in their health plan, which can ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes and patient satisfaction.
According to a Gallup poll, Americans have regarded nursing as ‘the most ethical and honest profession’ for 19 years in a row. Considering this, Black nurses have a tremendous influence on how the African American community perceives health and healthcare, specifically, the COVID vaccine. African Americans are receiving COVID vaccines at dramatically lower rates than White Americans. This is problematic because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans are dying from COVID at about three times the rate of white Americans.
Due to the traumatic history of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the Henrietta Lacks Story, and other medical tragedies, African Americans have little faith in clinical research studies, or vaccines without empirical data on long-term side effects. Black nurses can assist with providing accurate information, answering their questions, and addressing their fears and concerns. The trust they have in us can and will go a long way in persuading them to get vaccinated. These are just a few reasons why representation of Black nurses, and diversity in general, is so important in healthcare.”