Posted on Feb 26, 2019

Black Nursing Panelists Urge Increased Diversity and Mentoring

Black Nursing Panelists Urge Increased Diversity and Mentoring

A panel of prominent black nurse leaders and entrepreneurs agreed on Monday that more has to be done to recruit and mentor black nurses so that patients, when they are at their most vulnerable, are cared for by people who look like them.

The group emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusivity and vowed to do more to reach out to potential African-American students and faculty during a discussion on Feb. 25 at the USF College of Nursing.

The event was part of a month-long list of university events celebrating Black Heritage Month.

Tampa General Hospital executive Wendi Goodson-Celerin was the featured speaker. Goodson-Celerin, DNP, APRN, NE-BC, is a USF graduate and serves as vice president of acute care neurosciences, orthopaedics and clinical education at TGH.

Goodson-Celerin said one of the hospital’s goals is to improve minority representation in nurses. Currently African Americans make up about 18 percent of the community, but only represent about 13 percent in the state’s nursing workforce, she said.

“When you’re in the hospital, you’re at your most fragile and you want to see people who look like you and who speak your language,” she said.

The panel also featured Jackie Marcelin of Encompass Health Rehab, Erika Hall with Black Nurses Rock Tampa, poet and author Robert Saunders, diabetes specialist and clinician Shani Davis, and TGH nurse managers Carline Victorvil and Tanisia Presha.

Diabetes specialist and clinician Shani Davis speaks during the “African American Nurse Leaders and Entrepreneurs in the Tampa Bay Community” panel discussion.

Program organizer and College of Nursing doctoral student Lakeshia Cousin presented a certificate to Catherine Crumbs, a community nursing icon with the Pinellas County Urban League, signifying an honorary community nurse leader award.

Marcelin suggested every organization should have a diversity strategic plan. And some critical steps for having more minorities include making an effort to reach out and knowing where to look, she said.

Crumbs said she was born a preemie at a segregated hospital in south St. Petersburg, and doctors sent her mother home with the ominous words, “If she lives, she’ll be healthy.”

Crumbs said she had ongoing health problems and missed many school days due to her asthma. The school’s nurse would visit her home to check on her. She wore her crisp white nurse’s uniform, and her passion for healing made Crumbs fall in love with nursing.

“I said, ‘I want to be a nurse, just like her,’ ” she said.

Community nurse mentor and icon Catherine Crumbs speaks during the “African American Nurse Leaders and Entrepreneurs in the Tampa Bay Community” panel discussion.

At 14, Crumbs volunteered as a candy striper. Later she became a nurse’s aide at Mercy Hospital. She earned an associate degree at St. Petersburg Junior College and a bachelor’s and master’s degree at USF, finishing school in 1990.

Crumbs urged her fellow panelists to take advantage of the opportunities open to them now, because she grew up during segregation when blacks weren’t even allowed into nursing schools.

“You all are blessed,” she said. “This is the best of times. You all can lead by example. You all have more avenues. Now we know better, so we can do better.”

Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing