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Nurses: Make Your Workplace More Inclusive and Equitable

Given that the patient population in the United States is becoming increasingly diverse and that nurses come from a multitude of backgrounds, it's important for healthcare facilities to embody inclusivity and equality. As in any setting, diversity in healthcare relates to age, gender, education, ethnicity, disabilities, language, race, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.

What Does Inclusivity in the Workplace Mean?

Inclusivity in the workplace means that all employees are valued for their differences and included in appropriate scenarios, including decision-making.

What Is Equality?

Equality means everyone is guaranteed the same rights without discrimination.

Why Is It Important for Nurses to Be Inclusive in the Workplace?

Nurses are required to deliver care to all patients without bias, and they need to effectively collaborate with staff members who could, likewise, be from various backgrounds. To build relationships with patients and co-workers, nurses need to acknowledge and appreciate the unique perspectives of others. Patients who feel they are not understood may become discouraged or agitated, which can impede their recovery. Strained communication between nurses, physicians, interdisciplinary teams and staff can lead to misunderstandings, errors and tension that can erode relationships.

An inclusive workplace is one where patients, nurses and other staff are free to express themselves so they can work together to determine solutions to problems that arise.

How Can Nurses Promote Inclusivity and Equality?

Nurses can contribute to inclusivity by being culturally sensitive and considering patient preferences while providing the proper medical interventions.

Nurse leaders and managers can act as role models to promote inclusivity and equality in healthcare settings by preventing the stereotyping of patients and other nurses. They can break down barriers by deeming harassment, prejudice, intolerance and racism unacceptable in the workplace. Nurse leaders and nurse managers can then cultivate a harmonious environment through awareness, acknowledgment and acceptance of patient and nurse diversity.

Here are other ways nurse leaders can encourage RNs to be more inclusive and demonstrate equality:

  • Provide education through literature and work groups
  • Create a sense of belonging
  • Encourage them to share their views
  • Give them a voice in decision-making
  • Foster individuality
  • Provide opportunities to learn and develop

What Can Nurses Do to Improve Interactions With Patients and Co-Workers?

Nurses who are inclusive can relieve a patient's anxiety and reduce stress for co-workers especially when they do the following:

  • Ask questions to resolve ambiguity
  • Communicate clearly
  • Listen attentively
  • Make eye contact
  • Seek assistance if necessary
  • Stay calm and be patient

Stereotyping people based on appearance, beliefs, lifestyle, livelihood or living conditions has no place in nursing. A hostile workplace can erode collaboration and cooperation among the staff. When healthcare employers make inclusion and equality a priority, it can boost employee engagement, aid in nurse retention, increase patient satisfaction and improve outcomes. Providing an inclusive environment for nurses helps them extend the same courtesy to their patients.

Learn more about EMU's online RN to BSN program.


Sources:

Minority Nurse: The Importance of Diversity in Nursing: Breaking Down Stereotypes and Inclusivity Barriers

Nurse.com: Nurse Diversity and Inclusion Are Inseparable

Forbes: What an Inclusive Workplace Actually Looks Like, and Seven Ways to Achieve It

Chron: Definition of Equality in the Workplace

Nurse.org: How to Care for Patients From Different Cultures

Forbes: How Do We Design Workplaces for Inclusivity and Diversity

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