How hospitals can create 'Safe Spaces' with this free diversity training program

In the wake of George Floyd's death in May of 2020, Deanna Stewart, DNP, RN, was one of the countless people who felt helpless after watching the video of his murder. 

Disheartened and incredulous, Dr. Stewart turned to the employee assistance program offered by her employer at the time. She found out there were no programs for Black employees who wanted to discuss their feelings about, and experiences with, racism.

So she started her own. Through her nonprofit MyALLy, she founded Safe Space, a diversity training program for employees of healthcare systems and hospitals provided free of charge

MyALLy, spelled this way because Dr. Stewart hopes "all" people will be allies, offers three programs for hospitals: racial trauma recovery sessions, allyship and anti-racism training, and microaggressions and implicit bias training. She is able to provide these Safe Space sessions at no cost because the organization accepts donations and pursues grants that are available to Black nonprofits to help people manage their feelings about racial tensions.

MyALLy’s diversity, equity and inclusion courses are typically offered to hospitals annually or every six months. Classes are weekly during each session, at various times daily to enable hospital employees who work on all shifts to participate.

Dr. Stewart said she will provide any hospital that wants it with an "Organizational Cultural Assessment," which requires hospital employees to participate in an anonymous survey that assesses views of the workplace's culture. Then, if necessary, she works with hospital leaders to "create a greater sense of belonging" through the free diversity classes.

"Hospital leaders need to understand that employees often experience racial stressors, stereotypes, microaggressions and a lack of equity and inclusion," Dr. Stewart said. "If your employees are quiet and appear 'okay,' that could be a sign of them giving up hope for improvement."

The Racial Trauma Recovery sessions allow employees of color to unite in a psychologically safe and virtual environment to vent, share experiences, learn coping and wellness strategies, and develop individualized racism recovery plans. Dr. Stewart said this particular course is led by a Black facilitator for employees of color and "is designed to create bonds in a non-threatening environment while promoting healing from racial trauma."

The allyship and anti-racism training, open to all employees, focuses on "what it means to be an ally in a biased world," she said, noting the classes help employees learn how to "practice allyship and use their privilege for power to help others."

In these sessions, participants can learn what it takes to become influential allies in their hospital system. Concepts addressed include systemic racism, privilege, racism, unconscious bias, and prejudiced attitudes and beliefs. 

The microaggressions and implicit bias training focuses on "unconscious attitudes and stereotypes that manifest in organizations." Dr. Stewart said microaggressions and implicit bias lead to "ill feelings and negative demeanors about others based on race, ethnicity, age, appearance and more." The class is designed to promote strategies to create a safe and comfortable workplace and community setting for everyone. 

Visit to learn more about the MyALLy's free DEI programs.

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