Serious DEI Topics at Heart of Fun and Games Sessions

A “JEDI Jeopardy” session during Emergency Nursing 2022 isn’t what it appears at first glance. It will be in the format of the popular television trivia game — complete with prizes — and will reference the “Star Wars” universe. But in this instance, JEDI stands for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in emergency nursing, and JEDI Jeopardy, scheduled for 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. on Oct. 2 is just one of three sessions that will focus on this topic.

Anna Valdez
Anna Valdez

“There’s a deep commitment to addressing DEI at ENA,” said ENA DEI Committee Chair Anna Valdez. “We’re doing that internally by having all of the ENA staff and board being trained on diversity, equity, inclusion, and we’re beginning to push it out to state councils, chapters and communities by providing education at the conferences.”

Valdez will co-host JEDI Jeopardy with ENA Board member Joop Breuer and former ENA Board President Nancy Mannion. 

Breuer, a nurse at Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, brings an international perspective to the session and the topic of unconscious bias. Nurses everywhere tend to mistakenly believe they are inclusive and diverse, he said.

Nancy Mannion
Nancy Mannion

“I can give you an example from the Netherlands,” Breuer said. “We’ve got a great group, a large group of immigrant people from the Mediterranean, Iraq and Turkey, and they have a different way of presenting their complaints. The Dutch tend to think their presentation is overly dramatic. That’s something which is a bias.”

Valdez will also co-host the session “Findings and Implications from the ENA DEI Member Survey,” with ENA Director of Emergency Nursing Research Lisa Wolf at 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 2. 

The survey of 1,200 emergency nurses sought to gather a broad understanding of their knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and lived experiences regarding implicit and explicit bias. A focus group then aimed to identify areas of priority for education and workforce interventions. 

Wolf and Valdez will discuss the effects of individual and structural bias on patients and colleagues and an approach that favors structural analysis, intervention and accountability.

Joop Breuer
Joop Breuer

Wolf framed the findings of the survey through components of nursing culture that make it challenging to discuss bias.

One of those components is the prevailing notion that nursing is a one-on-one encounter that involves only the nurse and patient, which makes it hard to talk about systemic bias. Another component is an insistence on homogeneity of care or holding onto an idea that “we treat everyone the same” — which is impossible since all patients are different. The third component is an avoidance of conflict.

“There’s a great paper going around now about the toxicity of niceness — the social pressure to conform, the social pressure to not speak out when they witness bias to a colleague or to a patient,” Wolf said. “In our focus group study, we had a lot of the nurses representing dominant groups say, ‘I would never call that out. I would never say to another nurse, ‘Hey, that was really racist.’ What they might do is intervene and take care of the patient themselves.”

Lisa Wolf
Lisa Wolf

A Black emergency nurse participant described to Wolf a time when she apprised a patient who’d used a racial epithet that “we don’t use that word anymore, so if you’d stop, I’d appreciate it.” 

That nurse was later called into her manager’s office and reprimanded for being impolite to the patient. 

This demonstrates the re-traumatization of nurses who experience bias at work and the challenges to management to fully address it, Wolf said. 

“We take people from the bedside and we move them into management with very little training, so nobody actually knows how to have this conversation. Nobody knows how to intervene in a way that’s decisive, and make it clear that this is unacceptable,” she said.

Jenny Bevacqua, Hershaw Davis Jr. and Justin Milici will host the third session on this topic, “DEI Myth Busters,” 10:15 to 11 a.m. on Oct. 1. The interactive session will explore myths and truths concerning concepts such as critical race theory and gender diversity.

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