Racialised experiences of Black and Brown nurses and midwives in UK health education: A qualitative study

Nurse Educ Today. 2023 Jul;126:105840. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2023.105840. Epub 2023 May 5.


Background: Institutional racism within the United Kingdom's (UK) Higher Education (HE) sector, particularly nurse and midwifery education, has lacked empirical research, critical scrutiny, and serious discussion. This paper focuses on the racialised experiences of nurses and midwives during their education in UK universities, including their practice placements. It explores the emotional, physical, and psychological impacts of these experiences.

Methods: This paper draws on qualitative in-depth interviews with participants from the Nursing Narratives: Racism and the Pandemic project. Of the 45 healthcare workers who participated in the project, 28 participants obtained their primary nursing and midwifery education in UK universities. Interviews with these 28 participants were selected for the analysis reported in this paper. We aimed to employ concepts from Critical Race Theory (CRT) to analyse the interview data in order to deepen our understanding of the racialised experiences of Black and Brown nurses and midwives during their education.

Findings: The interviews revealed that the healthcare workers' experiences coalesced around three themes: 1) Racism is an ordinary, everyday experience; 2) Racism is operationalised through power structures; and 3) Racism is maintained through denial and silencing. Experiences often touch on a series of issues, but we have highlighted stories within specific themes to elucidate each theme effectively. The findings underscore the importance of understanding racism as a pandemic that we must challenge in response to a post-pandemic society.

Conclusion: The study concludes that the endemic culture of racism in nurse and midwifery education is a fundamental factor that must be recognised and called out. The study argues that universities and health care trusts need to be accountable for preparing all students to challenge racism and provide equitable learning opportunities that cover the objectives to meet the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) requirements to avoid significant experiences of exclusion and intimidation.

Keywords: Higher education; Midwifery; Nurse education; Nursing; Racism.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Midwifery* / education
  • Nurses*
  • Pregnancy
  • Qualitative Research
  • United Kingdom