Members of the Council of Black Nurses Los Angeles said they want to emphasize the importance of an organization like theirs, they said, that’s why they are reaching out to fellow and prospective nurses to join their ranks. In recent times, they have reached out to nurses, nursing students and even elementary school kids here, touting the benefits of joining their ranks. Together, they said, Black nurses in Los Angeles and beyond, can better address health disparities that most often occur among the low income population.
“We started in 1968 with Dr. Betty Smith Williams,” recalled CBN – LA President Chad Ricks. She was the first Black nurse to teach at UCLA and one of our original founders.”
What sparked their first meeting was the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
“People were so angry and [the 10 founders] wanted to do something,” Ricks explained.
They started to bring Black nurses together to represent the underrepresented, he said. They did that by starting immunizations in the community for instance and holding health fairs. They became committed to improving the quality of healthcare that low income, most significantly African Americans in Los Angeles had access to.
As they began to grow, they realized they needed to do more, like lobbying for clinical trials to include Blacks…
The Council of Black Nurses, Los Angeles (CBN-LA) is the oldest chapter in the National Black Nurses Association, representing the interests of more than 2,500 African American nurses.
There are approximately 3.2 million nurses in the US. African American nurses are less than 10 percent of the entire population. NBNA represents approximately 2,800 nurses nationally, members explained.
For his part, Ricks said he has been involved with the Council for five years.
“We give scholarships to aspiring African American Nurses,” Ricks said, explaining some of the activities of the organization.
“We raise money to get them to the conference.”
That is important said Ricks because prospective nurses as well as established nurses have the chance to meet and network with some very powerful members of the industry. They also reach out to kids.
“I’ve been to some elementary schools [for instance] where some of the kids had never seen an African American nurse.
CBN-LA is comprised of African American nurses “committed to addressing health disparities, and improving the health status of African Americans within the state of California. As a part of our goal to address and improve the health status of African Americans, CBN-LA provides a platform for black nurses to further educate, advocate, empower, and mentor one another,” members said.
The council installed their new officers on January 4 and will be recognizing heart health as part of heart health month in February.