Colorado Nurse Practitioner Works to Increase Diversity in the Medical Field
“I had to move to Ghana for security reasons because my sister was killed in 1991.”
Bamba’s teenage years were a dark time for her. She remembers the war starting when she was in eighth grade and the conflict kept her out of school for a few years.
Tragically, Bamba’s sister was killed in Liberia in 1991 and her family sent Bamba to boarding school in Ghana for security reasons. After graduating from high school in Ghana, she returned to Liberia in 1996. Almost immediately after her return, one of the most violent incidents consumed the capital of Monrovia. She said she then realized it was no longer safe to live in her home country and decided to move to the United States.
She remembered the exact date she landed on American soil: May 19, 1998. She lived in New York with her family for a year, but soon realized she didn’t like the bustle of the city. So she decided to move to Colorado with her family and has remained in the Centennial State ever since.
In 1999, Bamba started community college and graduated with an associate degree. While coping with the difficulties Bamba faced as an immigrant to the United States, she was unable to enroll in further studies for another decade. But she eventually earned her bachelor’s degree and a nursing degree from the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus last year.
“I was kind of shaken and had to come to terms with the fact that ‘you’re a black woman, your kids are black; therefore, you must do something. “”
Bamba said she had an “epiphany” after the 2020 murder of George Floyd. As a leader on campus, she wanted to make sure black, brown and other marginalized students on campus felt safe and heard.
“I reached out to a few people here on campus who I knew were interested in promoting diversity and equity, not only in our education, but also in healthcare. It was about time. There were a few other students who felt the same as me, and we all got together and formed Future Voices,” Bamba explained.
Future Voicesbegan this summer and was officially sanctioned by the university in October 2020. Future Voices is a monthly on-campus meeting for students who feel underrepresented and ignored. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) speakers are invited to meetings to advise students on how to navigate predominantly white spaces or professions.
Salwa believes that to change the world, diversity must be a norm.
“I once read that you can’t change people unless you change people. I didn’t understand what that meant until I kept reading and he said, ‘If you want to change things, you have to change the people in power who are resisting change.'”
“So if you can’t change people who are in power by changing the way they think, behave, act, react to people of color, you’re pushing them away and putting people who look like us in positions where we can make the changes we need,” she continued.
“I’m so glad to see a black woman as my provider.”
Bamba said there are times when black patients have entered the room to meet her and are happily shocked to see her, so much so that they tear each other apart. Bamba recalled a moving moment when one of her black patients was filled with emotion and tearfully told her, “I am so happy to see a black woman as my caregiver. »
According to Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), in 2018 only 5% of all active physicians in the United States identify as black or African American, compared to 56.2% of active physicians in America who are white. US Census Bureau data shows that more than a third of the US population identifies as non-white, however, the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey released by the Journal of Nursing Regulation almost showed 81% of RNs reported being White/Caucasian.
Bamba said she knows that being able to identify with a healthcare provider at this level allows patients to be more compliant with their medications and treatments. She therefore cannot underestimate the importance of creating a more diverse medical field. She also said she felt like the job was never done – not in a sad way – but in a way that feels like an ongoing journey to ensure that diversity spreads in the field of medicine.
“So I can’t overemphasize how important it is, especially with this wave, this transition we’re going through, the social toll of everything,” Bamba said. “Now is the time, and we must seize this opportunity to make these changes permanent.”
Lindsey Ford is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at [email protected].