Nova Scotia

Black Citadel High School students get a glimpse into nursing

Thirteen black students at Citadel High School in Halifax spent their lunch break Wednesday learning about nursing from four Dalhousie University students who look like them.

'It's important to have diversity in health care to reduce the inequities that we see happening'

Kyle Fraser, a Dalhousie University School of Nursing student, shows students at Citadel High School in Halifax some of the items needed to treat wounds. (Sherri Borden Colley/CBC)

Thirteen black students at Citadel High School in Halifax spent their lunch break Wednesday learning about nursing from four Dalhousie University students who look like them.

Fana Jafer Idris is a Grade 12 student at the school. She came to the session because she's not sure what she wants to do after she finishes a general sciences degree.

"I was leaning towards more like medicine, so I was like nursing would be interesting," she said.

Idris said she rarely sees black doctors or nurses when she visits her doctor's office.

Kalkidan Gebre, left, is graduating from Dalhousie University's School of Nursing later this month. She is also co-president of the Community of Black Students in Nursing at the university. (Sherri Borden Colley/CBC)

Efforts to increase cultural diversity helps a lot, she said, "because it makes others feel like they are not alone."

Wednesday's event was hosted by the Community of Black Students in Nursing and another group called Promoting Leadership in health for African Nova Scotians, which are both based out of Dalhousie.

Thirteen black students at Citadel High School in Halifax showed up to a session Wednesday to hear more information about nursing careers from Dalhousie University School of Nursing students. (Sherri Borden Colley/CBC)

Keisha Jefferies, who's doing her PhD in nursing, along with Tanisha Badmus, Kalkidan Gebre and Kyle Fraser — who will all graduate from Dalhousie's School of Nursing later this month — showed the students how to check people's lungs using a stethoscope and how to treat wounds and other health conditions.

Gebre is co-president of the Community of Black Students in Nursing. She is originally from Ethiopia, but has lived in Canada since she was six. She said her nursing class and the health-care system itself lacks diversity. She's hoping to change that.

"It's important to have diversity in health care to reduce the inequities that we see happening in health care, whether that is to do with black women's health, whether that's to do with immigrants' health. I've personally experienced inequalities happening to me and my family as black immigrants," Gebre said.

Kyle Fraser and Keisha Jefferies, both students at Dalhousie University's School of Nursing, are making efforts to encourage black high school students to consider nursing as a career. (Sherri Borden Colley/CBC)

"If I went into the hospital and I see a black nurse, I would feel a little more comfortable because I feel like they would have walked similar journeys as me and I feel they would … understand my symptoms or my experiences."

Idris said she's applying to Dalhousie and hopes to start her studies there this fall.

About the Author

Sherri Borden Colley has been a reporter for more than 20 years. Many of the stories she writes are about social justice, race and culture, human rights and the courts. To get in touch with Sherri email sherri.borden.colley@cbc.ca