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Thursday, January 18, 2018
HomeHealthThe Pink Mafia

The Pink Mafia


For me, food sets the tone of an event. So when you’re well-nourished with fresh fruit, granola, low-fat plain yogurt and a paper hot cup (hate styrofoam) filled with freshly brewed Columbian coffee at 8:00, I immediately got the sense that conscious decision making went into planning this workshop.

This was how the morning started at the Narratives of Diversity workshop co-sponsored by the Center for Health, Media & Policy and the Continuing Nursing Education Department at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing.

We looked like a racially diverse group. We weren’t asked to self-identify so accurate reflections on race and ethnicity can’t be provided. More on that later.

The gender imbalance was obvious with only two male participants and one male instructor out of 37 people.  Recent statistics show male nurses represent 9% of the total of the over 3 million nurses in the United States.

CHMP Poet-in-Residence Joy Jacobson, MFA, and James Stubenrauch, MFA, Senior Fellows at the Center for Health, Media & Policy, and co-directors of the Narrative Writing for Healthcare Professionals, provided excellent ground work on narrative writing theory and applications of the process by health professionals.

We left with some great reading sources to dig deeper into the knowledge base that exists to date on narrative writing.

Poet Joy Jacobson asked the group their thoughts on poetry.

This was not a shy group. A poem she selected was read out loud 3 times – by a self- proclaimed poet, an admirer of poetry and someone who admitted that they  didn’t  like poetry. She read it strong.

What was the poet writing about?

Hands jumped in the air. Many weighed in. There were multiple interpretations.

We landed in field of diversity of ideas through a poem.

“Diversity is the ability to hold multiple perspectives without judgement.” is how Deborah Washington, PhD, RN. Director of Diversity for Patient Care Services, Massachusetts General Hospital defined diversity in her keynote presentation.
Here are two other gem statements made by Dr. Washington (it was hard to share only three):
Ways to be inclusive. Don’t put me in a position to defend myself and my culture.
There is nothing more healing than being effective.


“There is nothing more healing than being effective” was her response to an important question raised by one of the nurse participants when she asked if reflecting on moments where one felt marginalized could be harmful. Like reopening an old wound that would be best left alone.

Dr. Washington urged the participants to keep writing down and sharing these stories out loud and in print. They are critical to the public dialogue on inclusion and diversity. They will move things forward.

So will research she said.

Until we conduct  research and collect data that shows that marginalization impacts patient care and patient outcomes we will not move forward to actionable guidelines addressing this in our schools and workplaces.

The writing prompts drove us into spaces inside that were waiting to be expressed on paper.

The dyads and all-group sharing was powerful.

At the end of the day , during our wrap-up, one participant commented on her experience as an African-American woman who attends workshops and conferences on cultural diversity. She observed that the majority of participants were People of Color.

Where is everyone else? How do we get everyone here for this discussion?

P.S. I couldn’t resist adding a 4th gem from Dr. Washington. Hence the title of this blog, The Pink Mafia.  This was a term used in the recent past when nurses bullied each other.


Latest comment

  • This was, indeed, an amazing day. Joy and Jim used prompted reflective narrative writing to help us all to deeply examine our experiences of and feelings about being marginalized. This is a different kind of conference. The work is internal, shared, and powerful. We came up with excellent ideas for moving the discussions and work within our own organizations,

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