For over 30 years, Kimberly M. Williams, DNP, MSN, RN, NE-BC has dedicated its career to serving patients at all levels. She started her career in healthcare as a front desk clerk and currently serves as Director of Nursing Operations at Stanford She Medicine Her Children’s Bath Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
In this Q&A, Williams discusses how her career journey has impacted her work as a leader and woman of color, as well as the health equity initiatives she leads at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. I’m talking
How did you get started in the healthcare field?
My first job in healthcare was as a clinic receptionist at the Endocrinology Clinic in Texas. During this time, I found my niche in helping others and was able to dedicate myself to providing exceptional service for patients and families. It was also a time when there were few women. A wonderful female provider I worked with strongly encouraged me to pursue her career in nursing. This wasn’t part of my plan because I was enjoying my role, but this doctor refused to give up and suggested I enroll in the course.The rest is history.She She saw something in me that I was unaware of and allowed me to stand on her shoulders so I could begin a now unique journey towards my purpose. I got
As I climbed the ladder, I began to realize that few people looked like me overall. And most of the time, few people worked in the house or in the cafeteria. It was around that time. My role is to make sure other black nurses don’t have to repeat the cycle of having to get better, work harder, and sacrifice more just to be treated equally. It became my motivation and determination to try.
This especially resonated with me recently when I heard a speaker say, “You can’t be invisible.” Rarely have I had the opportunity to have a Black mentor, role model, coach, or someone who looked like me and understood the challenges we face every step of the way as Black leaders. I’m telling you my story in hopes of changing a culture of inclusivity and equity in all areas, from the front lines to the boardroom. I am walking towards my goal. I made a commitment to my roots, my culture, and myself to be an advocate and a role model for what is possible.
As a nurse leader, what role do you play in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health?
As a leader of black nurses, my commitment to my patients, families, and employees is to ensure that diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice are fundamental parts of my life’s work. One area of impact is the work of the Stanford Medical Commission on Justice and Equity, established in 2020 to deconstruct racism and discrimination and advance equity and inclusion research. The Commission has released a comprehensive report containing recommendations that have created a roadmap for building a just and equitable Stanford Medicine. Her four critical domains identified to ensure success include leadership commitment and accountability, more diverse communities, culture of belonging, and responsibility for health equity. The recommendations produced specific recommendations in each area. I am proud to contribute to the development and implementation of the work of the Commission on Health Equity.
At Stanford Medicine, children’s health, diversity, equity, inclusion, and health equity are core organizational goals, and we fully integrate justice and equity in all our mission-driven operations. We guarantee that you will. I have the special honor and privilege to serve on the Stanford Children’s DE&I Council, along with leaders and staff across the organization. The Council is made up of three committees focused on key areas of intersection: Patients and Families, Workforce and Communities.
As co-chair of the Patients and Families Committee, I have directly supported employees leading more than 200 grassroots projects addressing DE&I and health equity. Projects include providing equitable care to patients and families, regardless of their first language. Address social determinants of health, such as food insecurity. Remove technical barriers to access to care. Empower all employees to gain a deep understanding of the cultural, historical and real-life experiences of their colleagues, patients and families.
In supporting the leadership of Black nurses, especially Black nurses, I believe that our organization represents people of all ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds and recognizes gaps in diversity, equity and inclusion. That includes frequent open and honest discussions with Black nurses. This includes having black nurses sit at the table in deciding how to hire and retain nurses, and taking time to listen seriously to black nurses who have experienced institutional racism. It also includes splitting. It is very important to listen to these issues, follow up on them, and take the opportunity to learn and fix them.
How have you seen the debate on health equity evolve over the years?
health equity It’s a very complex term and difficult to explain in a few minutes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines it as: health equity As a state in which everyone has a fair and just chance to achieve the highest level of health.
I have the unique experience of looking at this through two lenses: one as a Black woman and one as a Black nurse leader. The journey has been a constant evolution of the struggle for equal treatment across the board. A few years ago, my understanding of health equity included providing interpreters, learning how to respect religious beliefs, learning about different cultures, and working to address the immediate needs of patients and families. It included managing things superficially, such as improving the practices of
What we’ve learned in the last few years is that health equity is more than just ticking a box. it’s a process. We now need to consider what that looks like in terms of health equity as a community process and the social factors that contribute to the health and well-being of people’s communities. , how violence, poverty and precarious living conditions affect health equity. Stanford Medicine Children’s Health has made this a priority by building an influential, passionate and dedicated DE&I Council and working tirelessly to change the culture. Step by step, we need to make sure we speak the same language, but we also need to understand. We all need to contribute to this process to reap significant benefits.
What are the next steps?
There are several next steps underway across Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. I am enrolled in the HEAL (Health Equity Advanced through Learning) anti-racism seminar. The seminar includes workshops on medical racism, structural racism, microaggressions, and effective allies. This class provides tools to help create a more inclusive work environment and ways to increase equity in your work and personal lives. They then act as facilitators, integrating concepts into practice across the organization, and acting as operational sponsors.
Last year, the Stanford University School of Medicine hired its first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Joyce Sackey, MD, FACP. Her expertise and guidance enable her to facilitate and integrate DE&I at all levels of the enterprise.
As Co-Chair of the Stanford Children’s DE&I Council’s Patient and Family Committee, working with the Office of Patient Experience to establish the Respect and Dignity Committee to assess, respond to, and learn from patient complaints and grievances. It’s inside. about discrimination and racism. Working with and coordinating with the Center for Pediatric and Maternal Value to address health equity and health disparities in safety and quality issues. Our commission also conducts formal health equity rounds. This round will focus on presenters using real case discussions to approach patient care through an impartial and inclusive lens for addressing health disparities. Involving those closest to the patient helps consolidate a fair and level playing field.