A happy family and a nurse
Diversity in Healthcare

Diversity at JPSYS: Interview for Black History Month 2021

Diversity, culture, and inclusion have become such important topics in the past year. At J P Systems, we’re grateful and honored to have an experienced team of experts from all different backgrounds. That’s why during this Black History month, we asked two of our Senior Analysts, Donna Redley and Nina Mitchell, for their insight on culture and diversity in healthcare.

Q: How do culture and lack of diversity directly affect patients?

A: Lower socioeconomic standing can prevent a person’s access to care. 

Donna: “The lower socioeconomic members of society are so greatly affected not only from having limited access to healthcare in a rural setting, but also because of limited resources… such as having proper health insurance. You can have health insurance, but it might not be one that will cover your care optimally.”

Nina: “If you don’t have assets (money), you don’t get a lot of care. You can go to the hospital and be told to see your regular doctor. Many people don’t have a regular doctor.” 

A: Lack of education prevents people from knowing what resources are available to them.

Donna: “The free resources are there. The problem is that there’s a lack of knowledge on how to access those resources. Education and communication are so important.”

Nina: “A lot of people go without care until they are in dire need. By the time they go in [to the hospital], their condition has deteriorated to a point where they need major care.” 

Q: How have diversity gaps directly affected their careers in healthcare and Healthcare IT?

A: Both have struggled to find mentors who understand their experiences.  

Donna: “People don’t take the time to get to know who you are, and even if your resume speaks a lot, there are hurdles that can prevent you from getting where you are because of the color of your skin.”

Nina: “I actually had to join a lot of groups to find mentors that I could talk to, and six years ago, I was fortunate enough to [find a mentor] at the CDC, who is also a woman of color. But it was really frustrating because she wasn’t always available.”

A: They have been a minority in leadership. 

Donna: “If a person has the knowledge, that should be what they have to offer. I worked at a hospital once where I was the only black person in a leadership role, and that bothered me because I knew there were others who had the ability.”

Nina: “I have trained people who moved ahead of me in less time. Even in healthcare, there are a lot of issues with having diversity in higher levels of leadership.”

Q: What can leaders do to improve relationships with employees and patients of all backgrounds?

· Learn about the people you’re surrounded by–their cultures, their personalities, their preferences. Open yourself up to what a person’s background might say about their reactions, work strategies, and conditions (in the case of patients).

· Incorporate cultural learning into your organization. Start by learning about your team members’ and employees’ cultures. (Donna’s suggestion: start a physical or virtual “board” for people to share their favorite dishes or a song that represents their culture.)

· Provide and assist with training if an employee wants to learn something that could advance their career and your organization.

· Be willing to take positive and negative criticism from everyone. 

· Create an environment where people feel safe to address hard topics, ask questions, and express concerns.

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About Donna and Nina

Donna Redley grew up in Jamaica and attended Kingston School of Nursing before studying in the United States. She holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Arts. in Nursing. As a nurse in Jamaica, she worked in various women’s clinics that didn’t have many of the resources we’re accustomed to, such as IV tubing, bandages, dressings, etc. Her experiences have taught her to think innovatively and critically. 

Nina Mitchell spent 18 years working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a health analyst and meaningful use coordinator. There, she wrote a mapping guide and conditions for diseases like hepatitis. She has presented at numerous public health informatics conferences and currently leads some of our stakeholder engagement efforts.