Diversity in Nursing: A Two-Part Series - Part 1

As nurses we are trained to care for all patients equally.  This same principle must be applied to our role as nurse educators.  The importance of being culturally competent and inclusive as a nurse educator is just as important in our classrooms as it is at the bedside.  I had the pleasure of interviewing a colleague of mine, Connie Blanton, to gain her perspective on issues surrounding diversity in nursing education.  Here is what Connie had to say.

Colleen (CW): Good morning Connie! Let’s start off with a little bit about you.  Why did you want to become a nurse?

Connie (CB): Hi! I originally thought that I wanted to be a doctor which was sparked from my interest in the medical field.  My middle school had a program they used to introduce students to different careers and that was where I learned I had a strong interest in human anatomy. Soon after I decided I would like to interact with patients more and see outcomes met. I determined that nursing would better align with my interests than being a doctor would.  

CW: What barriers did you face in nursing school as a diverse learner?

CB: I went to Malone University.  I was the only African American student in my class and actually there were not a lot of black students on campus when I attended at all.  Most of the black students were athletes.  It was definitely different for me and felt like culture shock coming from McKinley High School where a lot of the students were African Americans.  There were a lot of students who had not been exposed to black culture before and would comment on my hair and the way I dressed. Classmates of mine would even ask to touch my hair! One of the things I remember is I didn’t have the chance to form a lot of good college relationships.  When we were allowed to pick a partner, I was always the last one left and just was matched up with whoever else was left as well. It left me no one to study with a lot too.

CW: What barriers do you face in your current role?

CB: Honestly, I really don’t face any diversity issues in my current role at work.  I work at Canton City Schools.  They have diversity training offered frequently and that helps.  Sometimes people don’t realize when they aren’t from the urban community how diversity plays a role daily for some people.  People need to think beyond the surface.  I think this includes social class as well such as not realizing people may be facing bigger obstacles in life such as not having food or worrying about electricity being shut off. 

CW: How do you approach and/or handled these challenges?

CB: I think the best thing to do is address the issue. Educating people also is very important. 

CW: What are some ideas you have to combat challenges in nursing education related to diversity?

CB: Education is big! I think Diversity training is huge and very important.  Some people might find this uncomfortable, but it still needs to take place.  Another thing that goes along with being uncomfortable is that some people feel they aren’t affected by it.  Just because it doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean it isn’t affecting someone.  One other thing I think we can do is try to make all people feel included.  It might be helpful to try to think in a broader sense rather than just focusing on personal experiences. 

Connie Blanton, RN, BSN, LSN is a graduate of Malone University and works at Canton City Schools as a school nurse.  She is also the owner of Community Care and Empowerment services providing nursing education and consulting to the community. Connie has been involved with WYCA Early Head Start, Policy Council, Stark County Black Nurses Association member, NAACP member, the Juneteenth committee, Phenomenal Woman member, and the LPN Health Advisory team.  Connie believes it is important to stay away from being so harsh and intimidating in the role of the nurse educator.  Her goal is to help all students learn in a positive way.

Learn more about how you can pursue a career as a nurse educator through Walsh University’s Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Educator (BSN to MSN-NE) and Doctor of Nursing Practice – Nurse Educator (BSN to DNP-NE) programs, offered fully online!

About the Author


My name is Colleen Wiley and I am a nurse educator. Growing up I always wanted to be a teacher, but I also had an interest in learning about science. I have always loved helping people which is why I chose to pursue a career in nursing. I spent my time in undergraduate nursing school working as a nurse intern on a medical surgical unit. After graduation in 2005, I worked at the bedside caring for post-operative patients and I loved it! Eventually, I started offering to train new employees and I would also take on nursing students for their clinical preceptorship. It was then that I truly realized my real passion was seeded in becoming a nurse educator! I started working as an adjunct clinical instructor in 2010 and immediately knew this was the path for me. A fire was lit inside of me! That burning feeling of helping others was reignited as I shifted my focus from helping sick and/or recovering patients in the acute setting to helping students learn how to become a nurse. I pursued a graduate degree in nursing education which I earned in December of 2014. I have been working as a nurse educator ever since I took that first leap back in 2010.

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