The 11th annual Diversity Impact Conference 2021 was held as a virtual event, June 24-26. The theme of this year’s event was “Dismantling Systemic Racism and Discrimination in Healthcare: Our Roles and Responsibilities”. The overarching goal of the three-day conference was to explore the history of healthcare systems as a vehicle for promoting racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression.
A total of 112 attended the free, three-day conference, which was highlighted by a series of outstanding speakers. The conference opened with FNU President Dr. Susan Stone presenting “Decolonizing the Nursing Profession.” Dr. Menah Pratt-Clarke, JD, PhD, presented the keynote address on “Social Justice through Extraordinary Compassion”. Dr. Pratt-Clarke is the Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Diversity, and Professor of Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
The other featured speakers were:
- Sarika Bhakta, CDE, President of Nikeya Diversity Consulting: “Effective Cultural Communications – Beyond Words”
- Dr. Judy Myers, Phd, MSN, RN, Kentucky Foundation for Health advisory board member and FNU Trustee: “The History of Eugenics”
- Kirsten Ivey-Colson and Lynn Turner, co-founders of The AntiRacist Table: “A Path to Healing: Cultivating AntiRacism as a Daily Practice”
In addition to the daily speakers, Thursday featured a social justice activity in which participants were asked to define social justice and social injustice. Further, they were encouraged to share their reactions to the social injustices that occurred in America over the last year. One participant wrote: “I feel a renewed interest in centering social justice in my professional and personal life.” Another said, “This work is not optional, it is essential.”
Friday included a roles activity in which participants were asked:
- What role(s) do I feel comfortable playing related to social justice in healthcare?
- Where can I take bolder risks related to social justice in healthcare, especially if I hold different forms of privilege? What support systems do I need to be able to take those risks?
The featured speakers and activities helped drive the conference toward its overall objectives to:
- Identify ways to show compassion using diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Describe behavior changes essential to encouraging unity and improving the health outcomes of underserved and rural communities.
- Identify strategies to dismantle racism, sexism, heteronormativity, and classism in health care.
- Facilitate student confidence in their ability to find their place in the changing world.