Anti-racism training required for nurses

Thursday, 23 August, 2018

Anti-racism training required for nurses

Anti-discriminatory education and training in the nursing workforce urgently needs to be introduced, particularly for child health nurses.

A Flinders University study, published by the Journal of Advanced Nursing, found that child health nurses often feel they’re ill equipped to challenge structural racism.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Julian Grant from Flinders University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences said child health nurses are often the ones identifying racism or potential racism in service delivery but are often not given the education and training needed to help them counter racism in practice.

Dr Grant said the study of 31 child health nurses across five groups in South Australia focused on how child health nurses understood and made sense of racism and how they worked with racism in their everyday practice with Aboriginal peoples, migrants and refugees.

“For example, some felt that their actual practice was racist because they were not supported by the organisation to support families with culturally appropriate practices such as co-sleeping. They felt that this made their practice racist by not being able to support parent/family choices.

“We also found that there was a lot of misunderstanding about what racism actually was,” Dr Grant said.

“Many child health nurses did not recognise that their personal beliefs and values directly impacted on the care they provided for families.

“They are all hard-working child health nurses who are doing the best with the knowledge they have. The main issue is that they (and most other health professionals) need education and tangible strategies to counter racism in practice,” Dr Grant said.

Child health nurses are community child health nurses who in SA mostly work for the Child and Family Health Service (CaFHS).

There has been little research to explore health professionals’ understanding of racism in health care, and how they manage it in practice. This study explored how nurses make sense of racism in practice and contribute to ensuring that children from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds do not accumulate further disadvantage in their lives through culturally unsafe healthcare practice.

The five focus group discussions with 31 maternal, child and family health nurses working across metropolitan South Australia involved clinicians representing the core professional group working with infants and families in the first years of life.

“Child health nurses work extremely hard to partner with the families with whom they work, but their practice is sometimes compromised because the frameworks used in their primary education is outdated. These results show that we urgently need interactive and sustained anti-racist education in pre-service, graduate and workplace education,” Dr Grant said.

“Most importantly, we need further research to find out what anti-racist approaches work best for Australian children and families.”

Image credit: © Yuganov

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