Teri Murray, Ph.D., dean of SLU's School of Nursing, shared the following remarks in accepting St. Louis American's Stellar Performer Award on April 29, 2011.
|Teri Murray, Ph.D., is dean of SLU's School of Nursing.|
I am deeply honored to receive and accept the Stellar Performer in Health Care Award. Thank you, St. Louis American Foundation. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my family and friends, my husband (Bruce), Mom (Ester,) sister and children, all of whom have been my greatest advocates and supporters. I thank Saint Louis University for providing me with an excellent education and the opportunity to lead a fine School of Nursing with outstanding administrators, faculty and staff.
I am amazed that I would receive a health care award. As long as I can remember I always wanted to be a teacher. At 3-years old, I would wait for my sister, Cornelia, to come home from St. Edwards's kindergarten, eager to hear what she had learned that day. I would then form my own classroom with dolls, and carefully teach them what I had learned. I even assigned homework. I did this while my sister watched the popular TV series, "Julia," a nurse played by Diahann Carroll. You see, my sister wanted to be the nurse of the family and I was born to teach.
While attending Northwest High, there was a teacher's strike. The media not only covered the strike but the many challenges associated with teaching adolescents. Troubled by the media reports and influenced by my sister, I switched my major on my college applications from teaching to nursing. What a great decision!
Nursing is the only profession that is synonymous with caring. The origins of nursing lie in the most fundamental of human impulses: to care for those who are sick, frail, helpless or in distress. Nurses, without discrimination, provide care to everyone -- the very rich, the hopelessly poor -- regardless of one's religion, race, nationality or gender.
While studying nursing at Saint Louis University, I was informed and formed by the Jesuit values and the notion of social justice. Transformed, I made the commitment to work with and serve the needs of others -- truly believing that the burdens and benefits of society should be fairly and equitably distributed. These ideals led to my work as a public health nurse.
Public health nurses promote and protect the public's health, ensuring access, opportunity and community involvement. As a public health nurse, I saw firsthand the difference one nurse can make in the quality of a patient's life. Nurses touch patient lives in ways that restore one's faith in humanity.
Today, as a leader in health care I will continue to serve others by:
- Working to improve the health of underserved communities with the goal of assuring access to safe, quality, affordable health care; and by
- Providing educational opportunity for those from under-represented groups to ensure a diverse workforce.
According to the most recent national survey of registered nurses, nurses from minority backgrounds represented less than 20 percent of the registered nurse workforce. In looking at the backgrounds, the RN population is comprised of 5.4 percent African American; 3.6 percent Hispanic; 5.8 percent Asian/Native Hawaiian; and 0.3 percent American Indian/Alaskan Native.
If you look at gender, men comprise 6.2 percent of the nation's R.N. workforce.
Recruiting under-represented groups in nursing is a priority for the nursing profession and is consistent with the recommendations from the new Institute of Medicine report on the Future of Nursing. There is yet a lot of work to be done.
This work will take the cooperation and involvement of all of us in this room, those from the various government offices, businesses, health care institutions, insurance industries and academia. We must recognize that diversity is a critical part of the mission of health care and a national challenge for the future workforce.
A culturally diverse workforce is essential in meeting the health care needs of the nation and reducing the health disparities that exist among minority populations. In closing, we must all work toward the change we wish to see in the world.
Again, I am eternally grateful to the St. Louis American Foundation for this award. I will do my best to perform in a manner consistent with the merits of the award. Thank you.