UofL faculty member pioneers organization supporting nurses of color

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UofL nursing faculty and students present at the 2019 National Black Nurses Association Annual Conference in New Orleans

Decades ago, Vicki Hines-Martin started an organization to bring African-American nurses together in the local area. As the founder of the KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville, Hines-Martin has dedicated her life to supporting other nurses of color and addressing health disparities in minority populations. UofL News reached out to Hines-Martin, associate dean of the School of Nursing for the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity Inclusion, to talk about the history and importance of these organizations to current and future nurses.

News from UdeL: When did the local chapter of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) start?

Vicki Hines-Martin
Vicki Hines-Martin

Vicki Hines-Martin: The KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville began in 1986 as a local organization whose members were interested black nurses from Jefferson County or southern Indiana. I was on the faculty at Jefferson Community College when we started. The current KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville became an affiliate chapter of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) in 1994.

News from UdeL: Describe the climate at the time and the impetus to start this organization.

Vicki Hines-Martin: As in many community and health care settings, little emphasis has been placed on the needs of minority populations or on understanding the importance of diversity within the health care industry. I have often drawn attention to these absences and their impact on health care outcomes. I was one of the very few African Americans in college and early in my career as a clinician or educator. I felt isolated and wanted to know if others felt it too, so I invited A.A. nurses I knew to a meeting at my house and discussed their experiences and explored their interest in forming an organization to educate other nurses and support each other. It grew from there over the years. I was the first president and other committed nurses followed.

News from UdeL: How has the KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville supported nurses of color over the years?

Vicki Hines-Martin: We have always provided support through our annual conferences in the past and later at more recent gala events. During these events, we provided professional development, recognized excellence among our members, and offered scholarships to nursing students who applied for funding to further their nursing education (from LPN to PhD). Over the years, KYANNA has provided nearly 50 scholarships.

News from UdeL: The National Black Nurses Association is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year at the upcoming annual conference in Chicago, July 26-31. Several professors and nursing students from the UofL will be present. What does it mean for our students to be part of this historic celebration?

Vicki Hines-Martin: I’m sure students will be thrilled to see and hear the story of black nurses and their contributions to the advancement of health care in the United States. Many nurses they have heard of will be in attendance and ANNB is renowned for its welcoming and inclusive activities for all attendees, especially students. This attitude lays the foundation for students to be attracted to joining a professional organization that reflects their experiences and future goals. They will have the opportunity to network and meet other students who will later become colleagues. While they may not fully understand the historic nature of this year’s conference, over time it will be an experience they will reflect on and appreciate more about being part of this event.

UdL News: What do you see as the future of the local ANNB?

Vicki Hines-Martin: I hope the organization will continue to be active in the community, provide mutual support and recognition for nurses of color, and increase its ability to provide financial and mentorship support to future and continuing nurses. . Through all of these activities, KYANNA will continue to build a strong reputation as an exemplary professional organization among the best in nursing.

UofL News: Do you have anything else to share?

Vicki Hines-Martin: I am very proud of the organization and even though I will not be able to attend the congress, I am very happy to know that the UofL nursing faculty and our students will be part of this historic event and will represent the UofL, KYANNA, and myself and other nurses in our community very well.

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