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Posts tagged ‘Whitney Thurman’

Confronting Institutionalized Racism

Our first featured article in ANS 42:2 is titled “Words Matter: An Integrative Review of Institutionalized Racism in Nursing Literature” authored by Whitney Thurman, PhD, RN; Karen Johnson, PhD, RN, FSAHM; and Danica F. Sumpter, PhD, RN. This article, which provides insights that can guide dismantling racism in nursing, is available for download on the ANS website while it is featured.  Dr. Thurman shared this background about this work:

(l-r) Karen Johnson, Danica Sumpter, and Whitney Thurman

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine released the groundbreaking report, “To Err is Human.” One of the main conclusions of this report was that the majority of medical errors do not result from individual recklessness. Instead, errors are more commonly caused by faulty systems, processes, and conditions that lead people to make mistakes or fail to prevent them. Within this integrative review of the nursing literature, we hope our readers can see a parallel between focusing on institutionalized racism as a combination of systems and structures created in a culture that privileges whiteness and therefore requires systems-level solutions, just as medication errors require systems-level solutions. To be sure, similar to individual medication errors, individual acts of racism exist and must be quickly addressed. However, our purpose in conducting this review was to move the conversation past racism as merely interpersonal in order to challenge the nursing profession to understand and accept that racism is woven into the very fabric of this country and all of its institutions, including healthcare. After all, when it was written and signed, the Constitution of the United States did not consider African Americans to be fully human, and the ramifications of centuries of legalized discrimination and segregation did not vanish with the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

As nurses, we pride ourselves in serving our patient populations without judgement. The reality is, however, that all of us hold biases that have been formed– often without our awareness– by the larger culture and systems in which we operate. Similarly, patients bring with them a lifetime of experiences that influence their health beliefs and behaviors as well as their opportunities to be healthy and productive. As nurses with collective expertise and experience in public health, NICU, and pediatric nursing across teaching, research, and practice settings, we suggest that it is time for the nursing profession to reconsider our commitment to non-judgment. We challenge our readers to recognize and confront the systems that perpetuate health inequities, provider-level implicit biases, and individual-level overt and microaggressions. However, the challenge must be done in without re-centering the conversation on individual-level definitions and solutions to addressing racism. With greater intention to institutionalized racism across educational, research, and practice settings, nurses will be better equipped to dismantle systems and structures that perpetuate racial inequities in health.

Our hope with this integrated review is three-fold. First, this is a call to action to our nursing colleagues and students across practice, education, and research settings to engage in continuous self-reflection and dialogue about racism. Second, we challenge our peers to join us in owning our collective responsibility to recognize and challenge institutional policies that perpetuate racism and health inequities. Finally, we hope to amplify the voices– particularly those from communities of color who have been doing this work for ages– calling for us to address racism in our ongoing dialogue about health inequities. Specifically, we hope that the organizations and road maps that guide decision making for nursing and healthcare overall, such as the upcoming Healthy People 2030 and the Future of Nursing 2030 reports, will heed the recommendations of organizations such as the Black Mamas Matter Alliance and provide strong, evidence-based recommendations for nursing’s role in dismantling systems that have perpetuated racial inequities in favor of more equitable systems.

Social Justice in Nursing Education

We are currently featuring the article byWhitney Thurman, MSN, RN and Megan Pfitzinger-Lippe, PhD, RN titled “Returning to the Profession’s Roots: Social Justice in Nursing Education for the 21st Century.” In this article, the authors build a strong case for redesigning nursing education to incorporate social justice concepts throughout the entire curriculum. The article is available at no cost while it is featured on the ANS website! Here is a message from the authors describing the evolution of their article:

We are honored to have our article selected as an Editor’s Pick. This article is a great example of how doctoral students can collaborate to transform in-class assignments into scholarly publications.

Whitney Thurman RN, MSN is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing (UTSoN) and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholar. Megan Lippe PhD, MSN, RN received her doctorate from

Whitney Thurman

UTSoN in 2016 and is a 2014-2016 Jonas Scholar. During the first semester of the rigorous doctoral program at UTSoN, students complete a philosophy course taught by Dr. Lorraine Walker, a renowned and inspirational researcher and educator. As part of the class curriculum, students write a short paper about social justice in nursing. When Megan took the course, she explored the issue of social justice content integration within nursing programs. She subsequently presented a poster on this topic at a local nursing conference and hung the poster in the hallway of the nursing building to highlight her work. Several semesters later

Megan Pfitzinger-Lippe

Whitney began the doctoral program. Having been intrigued by the poster as she walked past it countless times, Whitney approached Megan to ask about her findings. Through a series of conversations, they discovered their similar passions and interests regarding the importance of social justice in nursing education. Instead of starting from scratch for her assignment, Whitney received permission from Dr. Walker to build on Megan’s original idea in order to expand and refine it into a manuscript for publication. Whitney took the original paper and added both a historical perspective and a public health lens to the work. After receiving a grade for the assignment from Dr.

Walker, Whitney and Megan continued to collaborate on revisions until it was ready for submission to ANS. This collaboration was an excellent learning experience and reinforced the idea that careful planning can result in class assignments that are readily transformed into manuscripts suitable for publication.


Sexual Health and Sexual Rights

The latest article featured from the current issue of ANS is titled “A Review and Critique of Advances in Nursing Science Articles That Focus on Sexual Health and Sexual Rights: A Call to Leadership and Policy Development” by Lynn Rew, EdD; Whitney Thurman, MSN and Kari McDonald, MSN.  The article is available at no cost while it is featured, so we invite you to get your copy, read it, and return here to add your ideas to a discussion of this important issue!  Here is a message the authors prepared for ANS blog readers:

This paper was developed out of a course that Kari and Whitney were taking. It was their first research practicum course in the PhD program at The University of Texas at Austin. They were both fulfilling lab hours on Dr. Rew’s project. Dr. Rew regularly reads Advances in Nursing Science (ANS) and was aware that it was nearly time for their next “critique and replication” issue.  An upcoming issue was going to be on replication and critique of articles that had previously been published in ANS. So what we wanted to do was to look through the entire history of this particular journal to see what had been written about sexual health and sexual rights. That was our starting point.

 So, we decided that we would do a modified systematic review of the literature and the modification was that we were going to use just ANS to search for articles on these topics. It took a lot of revisions and hard work but it was a fun process to go through and refine the search terms. We discovered various ways that sexuality had been addressed among our sample of articles, but not necessarily sexual health or sexual rights. We also discovered the impact of policy as well as theoretical perspectives and frameworks that were used or not used. One of our surprising findings was that nursing theory wasn’t addressed very much at all. This surprised us because we thought that out of all nursing journals, Advances in Nursing Science would have something about nursing theory and sexuality. So, when we wrote in the paper that we wanted to encourage other authors to write about these topics, we really meant it. Our discovery and recommendation were based on actual data. Although the finding surprised us, it was also somewhat exciting to discover that there is a larger realm of work that still needs to be done to address the gap on this topic, especially for new nurse researchers.

This is an example of one way that PhD students can gain experience in publishing their ideas and aid in building their Curriculum Vitae. We were fortunate that all three of us were interested in the topic and in the “expected” outcome. We hope to encourage many other investigators, students and faculty alike, to explore the phenomena of sexual health and sexual rights. In the pictures, from left to right, are Kari, Lynn, and Whitney.

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