Tips for Practicing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as a Travel Nurse
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a common phrase in the world of healthcare today. It’s more than an effort to be mindful of peoples’ differences — it represents a concerted effort to shine a light on systemic biases and inequalities in the healthcare system and to take strides in closing these gaps. DEI initiatives represent a conscious goal to make healthcare more equitable for everyone, and nurses are often on the front lines of representing this mission.
DEI is paramount in healthcare
Everyone deserves to be treated equally and equitably when they need healthcare. The healthcare industry has adopted a number of initiatives to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within clinical settings. The goal is to eradicate racism, sexism, and other discriminatory practices within healthcare and to build a more diverse workforce.
Nurses are front and center when it comes to implementing these DEI-related practices. Patients interact with nurses most often, particularly in inpatient settings. When nurses take DEI seriously, patients receive better care, feel understood by their healthcare providers, and have more positive outcomes.
Travel nurses, in particular, have the benefit of being exposed to a diverse population. By working assignments in different parts of the country, travel nurses have the opportunity to both learn from and provide equitable care to a diverse group of patients. To that end, travel nurses can help lead the charge in building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive industry.
How to include DEI in your nursing career
DEI can be practiced on both an institutional and individual level. Nurses can — and should — make simple changes to their everyday routines to make their facilities more inclusive and equitable.
- Adopt inclusive language. One simple change all nurses can make is to use language that fosters a safe and inclusive environment for all patients and visitors. For example, ask your patients about their pronouns and offer yours in return. Or use the term “partner” in lieu of “husband” or “wife.”
- Listen and learn from patients. Every day, travel nurses meet people of different races, ethnicities, sexualities, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The best way to broaden your horizons and adopt a more diverse mindset is to listen and learn from these patients. Uncover their needs, challenges, and risk factors. Then, take what you’ve learned in one assignment and apply it to future ones.
- Keep an open mind. Shedding unconscious biases is something that’s easier said than done. It requires actively identifying, acknowledging, and deconstructing preconceived notions you may have about a group of people. Approach each shift with an open mind, listen, and offer respect to all patients.
- Advocate for your patients. Numerous patient groups have unique needs and concerns caused by systemic problems throughout the healthcare system. Part of DEI includes advocating for those patients to ensure they are taken seriously by medical professionals and receive the care they truly need. This also includes taking a stand against injustices you see in the workplace.
Building toward a more equitable healthcare landscape
At the end of the day, every small action toward DEI in healthcare matters. These efforts can help patients develop trust and feel well cared for in the healthcare environment. Healthcare can be a battleground for inclusion — and effort ultimately creates equitability.
Nurses play an important role in making hospitals and healthcare facilities safer and more comfortable for everyone. Be mindful of your approach to DEI and your methods of providing more inclusive care.