By Michelle Sanchez, MSN, RN, CPHQ
Incorporating equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives on your unit with coworkers, patients, and staff can be rewarding and create a culture that welcomes differences and diverse thinking. Success in this work begins with the vulnerability it takes to explore EDI and understand your own bias and privilege. This helps you engage with authenticity and encourages trust.
Nurse leaders need to be mindful and thoughtful at all times:
• Be mindful of the things you express verbally, through body language, or in written format.
• Be thoughtful of how the things you say may be received by others.
A simple “Hi! How are you today?" can be answered very differently when you're fully present. After asking, give the person to whom you're speaking time for a response or invite more than the typical “Good, how are you?" Explore what challenges or barriers that the individual may be encountering or anticipating encountering. Some questions you can ask include:
• “How do you think today will be for you?"
• “What could help you have a better day?"
These aren't new questions, but changing the focus of what you're listening for inevitably brings up what needs improvement, which you must welcome and be open to. Being fully present and actively listening when asking these questions can help you identify:
• gaps in nursing care that present an opportunity for process improvement
• ways to help staff provide safe and effective care differently
• barriers created through facility policies and practices that aren't supportive of its mission, vision, and values.
Nurse leaders can influence the behavior on their unit based on their behavior. The more knowledge and experience you gain, the more you'll increase your mindfulness. As this mindfulness influences your behavior, you'll begin to see positive changes in those around you. Ultimately, your staff members will begin to ask their patients and coworkers the same questions, creating an empowered and engaged unit culture that fosters EDI.
Michelle Sanchez is the Beacon Award for Excellence program manager at the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses in Aliso Viejo, Calif.