Diane Uzarski, DNP, NPH, RN, Senior Staff Director of Strategy and Planning at Duke CTSI, co-authored a publication in the May 2022 issue of the Journal of Professional Nursing entitled “Creating a Racial Justice Plan in a School of Nursing: A Journey of Discovery and Learning.”
The extensive paper outlines ways to address racism and white supremacy-based policies and practices in the Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON). Co-authors included School of Nursing members Dr. Brigit M. Carter, Dr. Marion Broome, and Monica Russell.
The idea for the paper formed in the period immediately following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Uzarski co-led DUSON’s Racial Justice Initiative and Task Force as part of Duke Health’s Moments to Movement initiative by Chancellor Eugene Washington that launched on June 19th, 2020.
Uzarski said that assisting in creating the School of Nursing’s racial justice plan carried much weight, given the school’s journey to promote racial justice for the past decade. There was an urgent sense of great responsibility to align initiatives targeted toward diversity, equity, and inclusion in the School’s 5-year strategic plan that she helped implement for Moments to Movement.
“I care deeply about our community,” Uzarski said. “As the former chief of staff and instructor in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, I wanted to do my part to create a community where everyone – faculty, staff, and students – feels welcome and free to advance in their nursing careers. My students are emerging leaders in the nursing field and will work to address racial injustices and inequities in their clinical practices for years to come.”
The paper details processes used at the school to address racism and inequitable practices. It also addressed practices to engage faculty, staff, and students in the challenging work of addressing barriers to advancing their careers and feeling a sense of wellbeing.
“There was no playbook,” Uzarski said. “We drew upon our previous work from developing and implementing DUSON’s 5-year strategic plan – our work in creating trust through transparency and engagement of our committed faculty, staff, and students.”
Regarding the publication in the Journal of Professional Nursing, Uzarski feels privileged to have worked with DUSON colleagues, specifically Dr. Marion Broome, the former dean, and Dr. Brigit Carter, the associate dean of DEI, to address these issues.
“I learned from these leaders and from our entire community during those six months of intense introspection,” she said. “DUSON is a national leader in educational excellence, research, community and global health and clinical practice. It seemed natural to share our racial justice initiative with the larger academic nursing community with the hope that it would provide guidance as each school confronts the challenges of improving individual and system structures to address racial injustices."