Over 300 participants, including juniors in Dr. Jean Nelsons psychiatric nursing course, seniors enrolled in community health and synthesis, and students from three local high schools, attended A Celebration of African American Nursing History (ACAANH), a day-long event on Feb. 4, 2008 conceived and spear-headed by Dr. Wilma J. Calvert. Participants were treated to two thought-provoking keynote addresses.
Dr. M. Elizabeth Carnegie addressed the history of African Americans in nursing, and how she championed for diversity in professional nursing organizations.
Audio of her speach is available here
Dr. Linda Thompson Adams focused on how health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities can be addressed through the creation of a more diverse healthcare workforce.
Audio and video of her speach and presentation is available here
Participants also viewed portions of the documentary A Jewel in History which chronicles the development, contributions, and ultimate closure of The Homer G. Phillips Hospital for Colored, after which three locals once affiliated with the venerable hospital shared personal and professional reflections. A lunchtime panel addressed local diversity initiatives in higher education and the workplace, including the founding of the Black Student Nurses Association at UMSL.
To encourage local high school students to begin thinking about career choices after high school, they were treated to a special session addressing the academic requirements, rigor, and dedication required for the nursing major at UMSL, as well as the advantages of nursing as a career choice. This interactive, exciting session was designed and facilitated by Student Services staff, faculty in the College of Nursing, and UMSL Career Services.
As Dr. Calvert stressed during her opening comments, the purpose of bringing up the past was not to dwell on the ugly, yet very real history of segregation, but to acknowledge how a segregated society compelled a group of people to excel in their profession, and how their contributions added to the richness of professional nursing. The quest is now to build upon that rich past for the benefit of the profession, and increase and strengthen the diversity we have within the profession to address the health disparities plaguing our society locally, nationally, and internationally.
Participants evaluations indicate the inaugural event was long-overdue in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Several wrote they left feeling proud of the contributions African American nurses have made, and continue to make, to the profession. Many indicated they are looking forward to the next ACAANH. ACAANH left the participants with a positive impression of our College of Nursing. We should be proud of what we have to offer the metropolitan area.