Herzing-Kenosha BSN graduate Anthony Pierson juggles a full-time job as a registered nurse (RN) at the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi, Mississippi while working toward his MSN at Herzing-New Orleans. Anthony is proud to work as a nurse, especially as one of the few African American male nurses in his unit.
We had the opportunity to talk with Anthony about his experience as a nurse, the need for diversity in nursing and what it’s been like working during a pandemic:
How has your everyday work changed because of the pandemic?
It’s obviously a bit more intense than normal. The pandemic highlighted a lot of things we weren’t doing before and it gave us a chance to enhance our skills as preventative health professionals. We’re also paying a lot more attention to who we are admitting. With the pandemic, you have to be meticulous about figuring out what a patient has been exposed to, if they’re symptomatic and more. I’m learning a lot.
Data indicates a growing number of male RNs, but there’s still a very small number of males – especially African American males – in nursing. What do you think could be the reason behind a lack of diversity in the field?
I think one of the major reasons for a lack of diversity in nursing is a lack of opportunity. People’s socioeconomic background often prevents more people of color from entering the field. Many do not have the financial means to attend school or to continue their education. I think for many, that decision is out of their control.
Why is it crucial to diversify nursing?
More diversity in the field means more opportunities to connect with your patients. People of color are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to diseases like COVID-19. Because I’m part of that demographic, I’m able to connect with those patients on a different level than many others. I have a deep understanding of the challenges they face, and that sensitivity can help form a powerful connection with a patient. That connection can improve their overall level of comfort and care.
What advice do you have for other African American males who want to pursue nursing?
Don’t dismiss it, and don’t take the responsibility lightly – there’s not a lot of us. At my hospital now, there’s one black male licensed practical nurse (LPN) and then myself. That’s it for our entire unit. I take it as a badge of honor and encourage others to do the same.
For the most part, the population I’m serving looks a lot more like me than my Caucasian, female counterparts, which means I’m able to relate to them on a different level. That’s not to say that other nurses can’t develop that same sensitivity, but as a black male nurse, I have a distinct and different perspective. I take that responsibility very seriously.
What’s the best part about being a nurse?
One of the best parts about being a nurse is knowing I’m helping someone, and that everything I do is for someone’s benefit. It’s extremely rewarding to see someone at their worst and help them get past that and leave them in a better place than when they first came to see me.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.