Black Student Nurses Association paves way for cultural competence


Photo courtesy of Tyra Weathersby

BSNAOU members attended the 2021 Michigan Student Nurses Association Conference.

The Black Student Nurses Association of Oakland University (BSNAOU) has one mission — “to promote unity amongst minority pre-nursing and BSN students, and provide opportunities for service involvement, a support network and leadership.”  

Meeting on the first Tuesday of each month, the BSNAOU is also dedicated to raising awareness for health disparities that affect minority groups as well as promoting the value of having diversity in the nursing field.  

“I was looking to be able to relate to a group of people that have first hand understanding of being a student of color and going into the health field,” Secretary Tiana Orr says. “I did not know that I would find such warmth, open arms, wonderful conversation and so many others to relate to. Being a part of — specifically [as] Secretary — BSNAOU has allowed for me to have a true sense of belonging, even in the midst of trying times.”

Other BSNAOU benefits include leadership opportunities, career building mentorship and having a support system of people who understand the trials and tribulations of nursing school. 

“Nursing school is way different than the other majors,” President Tyra Weathersby says. “What we go through and experience while in the program is just really hard, and having people who get it and are able to talk with you about it — talk you through your feelings, motivate you to keep pushing on and going and get where you need to be and achieve your goals — is really great.” 

During meetings, members discuss a range of topics such as experiences in the nursing program, mental health, jobs and cultural awareness. Bringing attention to the health disparities of minorities is an important talking point for Weathersby. 

“People can write things off, and I just want to make sure that cultural competence is something that we’re addressing in our meetings,” Weathersby says. “I want to have guest speakers come and talk about this more because I think it’s better heard from them than one of us on the board. One of the things that I’m particularly interested in is labor and delivery, and I know minority women have higher mortality rates when it comes to giving birth because the assessments can be a little bit different.”

The organization also does volunteer work. During the fall semester, BSNAOU partnered with the nonprofit organization, Eastside Mutual Aid. The club traveled to Rosa Parks Transit Center in Detroit to hold a food and clothing drive.

“Being able to do something like that was really beneficial. I like the fact that we were all able to experience that and see that. That compassion piece as a nurse is very important,” Weathersby says. 

There have also been group discussions on how to make an impact on younger generations. The organization has discussed the possibility of hosting future health fairs and traveling to schools to speak about the field of nursing.

“Young people seeing us in the positions we’re in — hopefully it will inspire them to go into the field too and help solve the diversity issue,” Weathersby says. 

Voted as the most trustworthy profession in America in a 2020 Gallup poll, nurses play an indelible role in society and are the backbone of the U.S. healthcare system. The care and expertise that nurses provide cannot be understated, and members of the BSNAOU are leading the way for a new generation of nursing heroes. 

For more information about BSNAOU or for those looking to join the organization, you can find them on Facebook, Instagram or via Campus Labs.