Black History Month celebrates the achievements of Black Americans in U.S. history. Originally established in February 1926, the event recognizes those who have inspired positive change through advocacy, community building, and professional success.
In honor of Black History Month and this year’s theme of Black health and wellness, we are featuring a few of the individuals who are making a difference — both at Boston Children’s and in their communities. We hope their stories will inspire future generations of health care leaders.
This is part one of a three-part series.
You will be a voice for the voiceless
Tyonne D. Hinson, DrPH, MSN, RN, NE-BC, director of Nursing Diversity Initiatives and the Nursing Career Lattice Program.
Dr. Hinson first became interested in health care as a teen after witnessing health inequities and poor maternal-child health outcomes among populations of color. These experiences motivated her to seek a professional career in pediatric nursing and public health leadership to address disparities in clinical care and improve maternal-child care for populations of color and underserved communities. Today, she leads several initiatives at Boston Children’s that focus on building a diverse nursing workforce, promoting health equity, and reducing child health disparities.
We asked Dr. Hinson to share what she would say to her younger self.
Dear Younger Self:
In this life, you will embody the words, “To whom much is given, much is required.” Your journey will not be easy and will have obstacles. This is what will give meaning to your direction and strengthen you for the advocacy of others. You will be a voice for the voiceless and a change agent for those without resources or access to equitable care, particularly mothers and babies of color experiencing disparate maternal-child outcomes and health disparities at rates significantly higher than other communities. These outcomes will be baffling and upsetting as you embark on your educational and professional career; however, you will channel this frustration and embrace the moment as an opportunity to influence national and global maternal-child and pediatric communities.
Over the years through your practice and leadership, never forget this lesson: You cannot wait for things to happen; you must make them happen. There is so much work to be done. Though some people may doubt you along the way because of your race and ethnicity, youthfulness as a leader, or mild-mannered nature, always be confident in who you are. Know that you are not defined by the standards of others, money, title, or status; but instead by your character and contributions to those you serve. Do not feel pressured to travel a road that was not designed for you — travel the path where your passions lie. It is here, in nursing and public health, where you will find joy and happiness in your professional and personal experiences, love your life’s work, and be “rich” beyond measure.
Your work will not be easy: Doors won’t always be open to you — sometimes you’ll have to create your own seat at the table. In the moments when you doubt that you can, remember that this journey is bigger than yourself. You will not always be perfect, but your faith, village of family and mentors, and guiding principles will support you along the way. Most importantly, always value the opportunity to engage globally with inclusive communities and broad-based objective thinkers to enhance your cultural experiences. This will shape your perspective and life experiences beyond measure. You are built for this, so give yourself grace and take the first step.
Read more about initiatives in health equity and inclusion at Boston Children’s.
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