Gerald A. Lowe, MSN, RN, NPD-BC
Growing up in a rural community, I had very few role models that looked like me. At the age of 5, in the early 70s, I had my first surgery. During my three-day stay in the hospital, I do no recall one health care provider of color. The majority of my health care experiences were provided by health care workers that did not look like me. As a child, I had no motivation to join the health care profession. Later in life, nursing became a second career for me. Even in nursing school, I noted that the majority of nursing students were not black.
Much has been written about implicit bias and socioeconomic disparities in health care upon patients of color. Black nurses bring homeostasis to the profession. First, black nurses are role models in the black community and allow others to aspire to the profession. As a black nurse, I bring a uniqueness to the profession. Black nurses increase diversity in the field of health care and reduce health disparities, ultimately improving the overall health care for all patients. Diversifying the health care workforce provides an opportunity to deconstruct the implicit biases and socioeconomic disparities that persist in health care.
I am grateful for the role I have played as a black male nurse. I work as a nurse educator for a small community LDRP and as a clinical instructor. In working with my nursing professional organization, AWHONN, I have been able to achieve much success. I have been a Chapter Leader, Section Leader, and both Secretary/treasurer and Section Chair. Presently, I am serving at the national level on the Section Advisory Committee. I hope to bring diversity to the profession and be a role model for patients, nurses, and future nurses.