A Different Shade of Normal

Different shades of eggs
As a nurse are you able to assess skin issues of a patient of color?

Did you learn this skill on your own or were you taught in nursing school? If you don’t think there is a difference in assessing the patient of color, ask yourself why or why not?

British medical student Malone Mukwende asked his professors why all the textbooks and everything they were learning in medical school were focused on individuals with white skin.

Was he to glean from those lessons that even when he examined people of color, he would assess the same problems and concerns as their White counterparts?

Mukwende is now a third-year medical student and has determined there is a risk of misdiagnosing because conditions present differently on Black, Brown, and White-skinned individuals.

Mukwende is now a third-year medical student and has determined there is a risk of misdiagnosing because conditions present differently on Black, Brown, and White-skinned individuals.

This gap further creates disparities among people of color. He has written a book called Mind the Gap: A Handbook of Clinical Signs in Black and Brown Skin in hopes of helping his colleagues and professors present content that is more inclusive. St. George, University of London is supporting him 100% and his book is available online for anyone to read and offers a starting point of closing the gap in health disparities. 

As an educator, I thought about what I do. During my lectures, I like to use statistics to discuss differences in patient assessments as it is related to the disease process or disorder.

In the clinical setting, I like to go into the room with my students as they are performing a patient assessment. This is a good time to point out differences in people of color such as how to appropriately check for redness at the IV site and discoloration to the extremities.

This is a learning opportunity for the nursing student and the patient will feel they are receiving exceptional care.

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