The University of Virginia recently hosted a series of workshops for its faculty on how they can stop encouraging racist attitudes in students.
The workshops, which were primarily for faculty and staff of the university’s nursing school, were allegedly created to help professors create more tolerant students.
The university published an article on their website about the workshop. The workshop was led by USC Professor Shaun Harper, who teaches at the University of Southern California. Harper’s teaching has helped nursing professors like Richard Westphal better understand how to treat patients of diverse backgrounds.
For University of Virginia nursing students, it’s a typical case study pulled from an ordinary psychology textbook – part of the way they learn to assess, diagnose and establish a course of care and treatment. But lately, cases like it are prompting nursing professor Richard Westphal to probe more deeply: does it matter that the subject is African-American? That she’s a single mother? And how will those details set the frame for the diagnosis and care this patient will receive?
“What’s right in the way this is presented?” Westphal now asks his students after attending Harper’s workshops.“What’s wrong? What bias is present in you as you read these details? And why do you think it matters?” The workshops illustrate a shift in thinking in the nursing field towards considering diversity issues when dealing with patients.
Other officials at the University of Virginia argue that the workshops are helping the UVA community better understand how to address the complex issues of race and privileges.
While most people are well-intentioned, “We do not know how to skillfully talk about and address issues of race, racism and white privilege,” said Susan Kools, associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the School of Nursing who, with Gates, organized UVA’s participation in the institute. “Until we build our capacity to do this at every level of our organization, we will not completely live into our mission of diversity, inclusion and equity, and this has a dire impact on the work we are preparing our students to do.”
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