This Black History Month, we spoke with graduate student nurses to highlight their experiences at the College of Nursing. Today, around 10% of nurses in the United States identify as Black or African American with that number continuing to grow.
Ebony A. Toussaint, PhD, MPH, MEPN Student Nurse
How are you breaking barriers as an African American nurse?
I am breaking barriers as an African American nurse by highlighting the importance of public health microbiology in nursing. I’m a member of both the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), where I completed my post- Master of Public Health fellowship in global health, and the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA). My current research focuses on vaccine-preventable diseases.
I’m inspired by other Gullah Geechee nurses such as Katie Hall Underwood. Her birthing work on the Sea Islands made a significant difference in health care disparities. There’s such a history of violence and harm that has impacted us, so I hope to be a source of trusted information and also incorporate the wisdom of my ancestors into my nursing practice. We have many herbal remedies that can promote health and prevent illness along with pharmaceutical intervention.
Melissa Felder, 05'BSN, '17 MSN, '20 DNP
How can Black nurses make a difference in health disparities?
It is imperative to diversify the health care workforce to deconstruct racial inequities, cultural systemic biases, and ethnic health disparities. African American nurses and Advance Practice Registered Nurses play critical roles in public health. Our representation contributes to better minority patient health outcomes and inspires future nurse leaders and clinicians of color.
I believe we should continue to strive to decrease health disparities by raising public awareness of those disparities and increasing the knowledge base for health promotion. We must be progressive, sound, and innovative with the treatment of minority patients to create an atmosphere of trust.