AORN Blog - The Periop Life

A More Welcoming Healthcare System

Carter Todd, MS, RN, CCRN with patient 
October 8, 2021


To strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in health care, surgical leaders must step up and take purposeful action. Carter Todd, MS, RN, CCRN, a nurse leader with Dignity Health in San Francisco and president of the Capitol City Black Nurses Association, hopes to inspire leaders to make needed change happen during what’s sure to be a compelling panel discussion this week at Virtual OR Excellence.

“I think people should walk away from the talk with the feeling of individual ownership for improving the culture of diversity in their work and home environments,” he says. Ownership is a critical component of any facility’s efforts to provide more welcoming care. “We often assume someone else will fix the problem, or that an issue will be resolved by an outside force,” says Mr. Todd.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts call for us to remain accountable to ourselves in order to continue learning about and valuing each other’s lived experiences.” When he’s not providing front-line nursing care, Mr. Todd is frequently out in the community raising awareness about his profession in an effort to increase the number of nurse leaders from a traditionally underrepresented demographic.

“My top priority when it comes to community advocacy initiatives has always been to develop more nurse leaders of color to combat the health disparities that have historically plagued our communities,” says Mr. Todd. He’ll be joined on the Virtual OR Excellence panel by Heena Santry, MD, a trauma and acute care surgeon who has a passion for developing a diverse and compassionate healthcare workforce.

“I’m interested in intentional approaches to forming inclusive care teams that enable all to thrive and do their best work in service of the patient,” she says. Philip Louie, MD, a spine surgeon at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, will round out the panel. He hopes the discussion will serve as a springboard for others to feel more comfortable engaging in open discussions about racial and social disparities. 

“Many of these struggles that people continue to experience occur on a daily basis in seemingly routine activities,” says Dr. Louie. He believes having an open set of eyes and welcoming heart to those around you, despite the gaping differences that may exist, can be a powerful first step in strengthening our communities and understanding the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in health care. “It’s the accumulation of seemingly small everyday encounters and efforts that can drive large-scale changes in our workplaces and communities,” says Dr. Louie.

Join Dr. Louie, Dr. Santry, and Mr. Todd for their Virtual OR Excellence panel discussion on October 13 from 12:30 p.m.- 1:35 p.m. ET.

This article originally appeared in Outpatient Surgery Magazine.

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