African American nurse leaders in ONS have paved the way in eliminating cancer disparities, identifying and tackling social determinants of health, and providing Black communities with educational and clinical resources. Their initiatives embody the importance of well-being for Black healthcare professionals, patients, and members of the community—as well as the 2022 Black History Month theme, “Black Health and Wellness.” This year’s theme brings a national emphasis not only on the important discoveries made in science and medicine by Black researchers and healthcare professionals, but also the health and wellness of Black communities across the United States.

Bertie Fields, RN, MSN
Bertie Fields, RN, MSN

Caring for Local Nurses and Communities

Bertie Fields, RN, MSN, is a member of the Columbus ONS Chapter and co-chair of its Community Outreach and Engagement Committee, which is dedicated to focusing on promoting health and education in local communities. In addition, the committee has started several initiatives that reinforce the importance of self-care and well-being, including delivering self-care boxes to chapter members to remind them to prioritize their own mental and physical health.

The self-care box contents come from a local African American-owned business and include items such as shower steamers, body oil, shower gel, and shea butter.

“In the future, I see this self-care box initiative growing,” Fields said. “When the COVID-19 pandemic is less threatening, I’d like to see self-care box deliveries. That makes it more fun. What’s better than receiving is giving.”

The self-care boxes are also incorporated into the chapter’s community outreach initiatives and programs. During the holiday season, the chapter sponsors a family for the holidays, providing everything on the family’s wish list. In 2021, the chapter sponsored two families. Fields said that wrapping and delivering the gifts had a positive impact on chapter members and their own well-being, and chapter members who helped wrap the gifts received their self-care boxes at the event.

“Being part of the community is an aspect in and of itself to self-care. Everybody loves volunteering for the community and making a difference in other peoples’ lives,” Fields said. “Just knowing that we’re doing a little something for our community places a positive impact on our psyche.”

Timiya S. Nolan, PhD, APRN-CNP, ANP-BC
Timiya S. Nolan, PhD, APRN-CNP, ANP-BC

Eliminating Negative Statistics for Black Patients

ONS member and Columbus ONS Chapter President Timiya S. Nolan, PhD, APRN-CNP, ANP-BC, is also focusing on community outreach, launching the Partnering in Negative Statistics (P.I.N.S.) for Black Women Initiative. The initiative brings together partners like The Ohio State University, the Columbus ONS Chapter, American Cancer Society, and American Heart Association to uplift Black women to achieve total wellness through education, resources, and science.

Nolan said that the initiative supports cardiovascular health in Black women by measuring, reporting, and educating on the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 Metrics: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, smoking status, body mass index or weight, physical activity, and dietary intake.

“We know that if you are able to attain those metrics, you are less likely to develop diseases such as cardiovascular disease and breast cancer,” Nolan said. “But we also see that attainment promotes quality of life. We bring Life’s Simple 7 information into our community and give community members access to resources in a clinic to our community model, and we are asking Black women to participate in research to help us learn more about how we can partner with them to achieve better health.”

Nolan said that the P.I.N.S. for Black Women Initiative held its first signature event in August 2021, Uplift Her, with more than 200 Black women attending. The event also helped to spread valuable education to community members and provided access to cancer screenings.

The next signature event will take place in August 2022, but until then, smaller events will be held with local organizations to advocate for and educate underserved communities.

“There are a lot of negative health statistics facing the Black community and particularly Black women,” Nolan said. “As we think about Black women, they are the backbone of the Black family. And it’s so important for the backbone to be healthy. Black women must be healthy to carry the weight of their community and be a model for their families.”