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Reach One, Teach One

Editorial Team

Hello phenomenal people,

My name is Tashma (ta-shh-ma) Greene. First and foremost, I must state that I am elated by the opportunity to write about myself as a way to bridge communities by sparking  conversation about daily life experiences and wellness. I am a recent graduate of the University of San Francisco receiving my Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Now that I’ve acquired such a highly acclaimed level of education and field of study, I am constantly hearing, “wow, a Master’s degree!”. Please allow me to be the first to say that it took me a long road of self-discovery, adversity and perseverance to become the dynamic woman that I am today. If nothing else, I want to be sure to express to all of you that I am just like you. I am your sister. I am your friend. I am nothing but an individual being used to share this narrative. I typically like to distinguish myself outside of my degree because I truly believe that there is value in shedding our layers to see how similar we can be.

Now that we’ve been somewhat introduced, I would like to speak more about my journey into the healthcare industry. I can recall being six years old making conscious decisions to choose novels over toys and the Discovery Channel over cartoons. To my surprise, I was building my palette for the type of career that I aspired to obtain as an adult. Without any other awareness of healthcare aside from regular pediatric check ups, I knew that I wanted to help people. I knew that I wanted to be able to witness new life, organized chaos, smiling faces and change. However, as an adolescent I came to realize how challenging this journey would become. As a student with no family in the healthcare industry and allotted savings toward academic funding, I truly believe that God placed the right people in my life to propel me forward. In 2016, I sat with a good friend of mine for lunch to discuss my options after graduation. I was working full-time as a retail manager, taking 24 credits to complete my Bachelor’s degree in African American Studies and finally starting to enjoy life with a sense of newfound independence. I can still recall to this day my friend asking me, “how do you want to see yourself in the work that you do?” After this day, I took the time to get involved in community work and hospital internship opportunities to observe the dynamic of care needed around me. This moment in my life allowed me to gain the insight needed to make the conscious decision (alike my six year old self) to choose the field of Nursing.

I am currently a new-graduate Registered Nurse working in the field of General Surgery. I wanted to highlight that I am a new graduate considering that I have so much to learn at this time. Although stressful, I do find a sense of joy knowing that I am expected to learn so much over the course of my career that differentiates from what was learned in the classroom. As a MSN, I received adequate training to obtain certification as a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL). The role of the CNL is a new but impactful role as its purpose stems from the importance of teamwork and collaboration amongst various fields of practice within the healthcare system. For example, a CNL would work toward bringing nurses and doctors together to address issues that will not only impact the standards of practice for both professionals but with heightened emphasis on the improvement of patient outcomes. A CNL is responsible for continuously finding ways for healthcare professionals to establish innovative approaches toward the dynamics of healthcare with regard to evidence-based research. I wanted to become a CNL because I know that there is power in change but to promote change an area of opportunity must first be recognized. I feel empowered by the opportunity to play an active role toward improving the framework of patient care.

As an African American woman in the field of Nursing, I know that there is an abundant amount of power in representation. If there were three big things that I could tell women of color regarding their health it would be to become in tune with their body, embrace the state of your mental health and care for your womb. I’d like to expand on my first tip as it provides the foundation for the other two tips stated. I believe that being in tune with your body is the ability to verbally express how you’re physically feeling. Although I have only had very few experiences providing service to African American women, the message has remained the same. Each woman felt hesitant toward acknowledging and vocalizing their pain level due to the idea that they would be perceived negatively by their healthcare provider. I have also been told that most women felt like their requests were met by a lack of urgency or ignored. I am sure that we are all aware of the intersectionality faced by African American women; therefore, we must not allow our voices to fall upon deaf ears. In an effort to change the systemic challenges imposed upon African American women, we cannot only acknowledge that there is a need but also make conscious actions to promote such change.

During my various clinical rotations, I became aware of the importance of fundamental nursing skills in alignment with continuously striving for quality improvement from the management of healthcare organizations to bedside patient care. Considering this approach, I would not be able to ignore the mortality rates amongst African American women during childbirth. The impact of health disparities within the African American community can be detrimental to our wombs. As reported by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births (the pregnancy-related mortality ratio or PRMR) for black and AI/AN women older than 30 was four to five times as high as it was for white women. It has also been noted that it is still prevalent amongst women with higher levels of education and within areas that have begun to combat against the national dilemma. Although there has been a 45 million dollar pledge to support the next five years of research regarding this national dilemma, the work starts with us. We must take the time to become educated on our wombs and take avid steps to promote our health to be able to become in tune with our bodies. At this time, I have yet to conceive but I still get feelings of unease when thinking of the recent statistics. We must continue to address these known facts to prevent the chance of a sentinel event. We must continue to reach one and teach one.

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