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California nursing students now required to take implicit bias training

Bakersfield College students participating in "Get Out the Vaccine"
Posted at 10:32 PM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 02:30:45-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Governor Gavin Newsom just signed AB-1407 into California law a bill calling for the requirement of implicit bias training as a graduation requirement for nursing students.

According to the California Nursing Association, California is believed to be the first state in the nation to require implicit bias training as a graduation requirement for nursing students.

Bakersfield College nursing professor Noelia Citialin said this curriculum may already exist in nursing programs to some degree.

“Having awareness about your bias, your stereotypes and your fear, your fears, your emotions, all of that is a nursing fundamental that I teach in psychiatry, and being aware of others’ cultural preferences, spiritual preferences is something that is a part of my curriculum,” said Citilian.

Citialin said that their nursing program at BC and many nursing schools may teach their students that self-awareness.

Even so, the president of the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC), Sandy Reding, said that implicit bias in healthcare has been an ongoing issue. They decided to sponsor assembly bill 1407.

“Implicit bias was magnified during the pandemic. We thought we better do something about it,” said Reding.

Reding said vaccination rates in communities of color being a prime indication of why this action was necessary.

"There’s implicit bias, there’s structural racism, sometimes the reason why people did not get the vaccine access is because they didn’t have access to the internet. They didn’t know where to go to get even information regarding the vaccinations. Also in their own language, and from people that look like them,” said Reding.

According to the California Department of Public Health, through October 6th while Latino’s are the leading population in Kern County with at least one dose of the vaccine who are eligible only 5.5% of Asian Americans have at least one dose and only 3.4% of the Black community who are eligible to get the vaccine. Native Americans or Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders have starkly low vaccination rates in the state at 0.4% and 0.3% respectively.

As a practicing registered nurse and a nursing professor, Citialin said especially “during these trying times,” AB-1407 could mitigate these issues. She encouraged her students to be a voice for their clients.

“Most nurses are in the healthcare aspect to take care of people, no matter what people believe, so I feel that sometimes with the politics that are going on and all the influences that are outside of their education and personal things, are probably the things that get in the way and increase disparities. And I feel that this might decrease the disparity,” said Citialin.

Reding said the CNA/NNOC is looking forward to collaborating with nursing schools like the ones at Bakersfield College and Cal State Bakersfield, on this curriculum going forward.