Stories from Our Nurses: Joan Feerick


Unconscious Bias

“I’ll never forget 9/11/2001.  A little girl from my children’s elementary school lost her mother in the Pentagon attack and my sister Ann narrowly escaped from her office in the World Trade Center. It was a long and frightening day and we didn’t know Ann was safe until late in the afternoon.  Endless newscasts and stories followed about Al Qaeda and terrorists and it seemed they were all telling me to reject Muslims. Sad how tiny seeds of hatred can be planted and allowed to germinate.  That year, Ramadan took place just after September –  over the fall and into the winter.  One of my patients came monthly for an infusion that required I stay close by for frequent assessments.  He was funny, kind, warm and talkative… and he was Muslim.  He shared bits about his Muslim faith with me – not the faith of terrorism.  He told me about Ramadan and he described in detail delectable delights he would eat at the end of the fasting period.  He talked about his children and his life and how all had been changed by 9/11.  He helped me to look inside myself and question my biases – biases that I didn’t want to recognize. This kind Muslim man inspired me to let go – to be a better nurse and a better person.  This year, in our nursing competency sessions, we talk about unconscious bias and how it can affect the care we deliver.  Every time I present, I think of this story and hope that I can inspire other nurses to recognize and let go of biases they may have.”

Joan Feerick
Manager, Professional Development and Clinical Education

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