Bias and Burnout in The Nurse Industry & How It is Affecting New Nurses

Mental health and its impact on individuals have gained more attention over the last few years. However, workplace stress and discrimination, and their psychological and physical health effects are still not receiving the attention they deserve. The workplace mentality in Western culture is very fast-paced; we need this done yesterday. People are seen as cogs and are expected to be in a state of constant production. We must meet metrics and KPIs and make sure that the bottom line is satisfied. So although cute sayings like self-care and recharging have become trending buzzwords, the reality is the real grit of mental health in the workplace and how that affects individuals is not receiving any meaningful or impactful changes. Companies have implemented EAP plans as a benefit. But if an employee experiences discrimination at the organization’s hands, there is very little that an EAP can do. But there is someone out there that has turned her battle with workplace bias and discrimination into her calling. Glennae Davis is an RN with her BSN who faced prejudice in the workplace after the system failed her while she was injured. 

Glennae Davis, the founder of RX For Life, helps her clients understand and overcome the discriminatory challenges faced in the workplace that often contribute to stress. Knowing that 75% of mental and physical disease begins with unresolved personal issues that are typically job-related, Glennae realized that she needed to be a part of the solution, especially after experiencing workplace discrimination first-hand.

Her journey is why she is so passionate about educating others on effective ways to manage workplace stress and empower them to make informed decisions when presented with medical professionals’ treatment plans. Many patients are not aware that they have options beyond what is recommended to them, which is an issue.

Glennae’s second book, Bias and Burnout: 10 Power Moves for Healthcare Workplace Equity, touches on all of this and is a must-read for anyone looking to overcome bias and achieve real health equity.   Her Website

The Queen Sessions: There is a saying that Nurses eat their young. How true do you think this is in regards to Bias and Burn out with new nurses?

Glennae: Thanks for your question, but yes, season nurses can be hard on new nurses. In no way are we attempting to destroy the confidence of new nurses. We know how difficult it is; they just came out of school years l and dealt with teachers, academics, and even family issues. Trying to get through nursing school is not an easy task. We want you to enter the nursing profession in practice at a level of excellence at all times. That’s what we want. I think you asked me about bias?

Yes, how do you think that plays a role in bias in nursing? As far as the harshness, they are not ready for or how they feel older nurses treat them?

Glennae: I believe that if we don’t practice to the level of our excellence or the excellence of the department that you are in weather, it’s in the intensive care unit or the med surge unit, these are different levels of nursing, then that can contribute to bias which leads to burnout because you don’t practice at a level of confidencThethe nurses eating their young can be interpreted in so many ways even for me as a new grad. I worked in a facility that provided the highest level of care here in California; people all over the country and the world would fly in even on medical helicopters or airplanes to get treatment in our department. So substandard nursing care or medical care was not going to cut it. It was a tough place to work in, but it brought you to practice at a level that would protect yourself and your patients. And have you advocate at a level where you feel confident.  

As we were talking, I had another question come to mind. Since COVID has started I have seen several ads for nursing school online. That had me wondering how that will impact nursing since you are not doing hands-on care of patients?

Glennae: Wow, that’s a great question, and I have seen that as well. It’s not going to sever nursing or the future of nursing and healthcare consumers well. Not at all.  It’s going to eliminate the art of nursing, and it’s going to eliminate the art of getting to know your patients. You get intimate with patients. If you don’t have that hands-on connection during your training process because it’s uncomfortable, Lyana gets intimate with somebody and takes care of them. It takes all of those years of nursing experience to get to that level, I couldn’t imagine trying to take care of somebody and I can’t look them in the eye. I don’t think that it can be good. But when you talk about the business side of it, you just need a body. 

Why would you want to shortcut the care? That’s what will happen because nursing is on the decline because the number of nurses graduating will not meet the demand. 

Glennae: oh yeah, doctors too,  physicians are leaving the industry and committing suicide because of profit before people. I’ve read many articles that say burnout contributes to charting, and I wonder who is stressing that hard over charting. It’s not charting. It’s the disconnect and the politics and the inhumanity in healthcare, a business, and I think it’s time for people to learn how to navigate and become knowledgeable consumers of healthcare and ask for what they want and have a conversation with the service provider. We have to remember that your doctor and your nurses work for you; they do for the community. They are service providers; our care should not be dictated.

What should nurses of color, coming out of nursing school know before entering the workforce?

Glennae: Well, I would tell African-American nurses that you are heavily watched, you are judged, and you are devalued and unprotected in many of these institutions. Your patient’s family will dictate your assignment, and your management will side with them. Until these hospitals have a zero policy for racism, this will continue to happen, or there will be a massive gap in the diversity of nurses going up the career ladder of nursing and being in administrative positions. But I want them to know that they need to do their job anyway. We are heavily targeted in any institution that we work in, whether it’s healthcare or business, you have always to do your job. 

Would it be wise or a good investment for nursing students of color to maybe invest in leadership courses outside of what the nursing curriculum is? 

Glennae: Yes, that is one reason why I created bias and burnout. There are so many avenues and directions that I could have gone with my experience, and so many people I wanted to touch. Still, my main focus was always on African-American women who are professional faith-based, college-educated. And are in these institutions, feeling as if institutional racism is holding them back. Causing them to be sick and stressing them out, and they can’t breathe. We literally can’t live, our hair is falling out, we’re gaining weight, we have all this inflammation because of chronic stress, and we go to the doctor. He’s biased against you whether they are male or female, whether even if they are a Black person, they won’t know what to do because this training is not there. This experience that I went through is so unique that I could see the outcome of not advocating for yourself so that I could reach health equity. I just want to make sure that other people start at the base, which is bias and burnout, a concise, powerful read and understanding my perspective and then learning how to create this work-life harmony so that they don’t burn out. 

The fast pace is killing us all, which is why when everything came screeching to a halt, everyone lost their mind. 

Glennae: Exactly. I want to make sure that people are seeing employment as empowerment, instead of dependent. I want people to know that they cannot wake up unconscious bias unless they do something that’s a little nervy that’s not unprofessional or out of line. Even though coming from a black person may think that it is, but it’s not, you still have to protect yourself and defend yourself. I am a little iffy about using the word defend but it really is defense because white people with an unconscious bias on the job Lyana, believe that we are a threat. My boss just told me this the other day. I still work right now and I asked my boss for some help to do some charge nurse duties that I was doing because we were short-staffed and we had a quick conversation. In that conversation, he told me “I feel threatened by you”. I said you feel threatened by me? I have almost 30 years of healthcare experience, 16 as a registered nurse, I’ve authored two books, and I sit on panels. What exactly are you afraid of about me? 

(Stay tuned for the second part of the interview coming soon)

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