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Seeking Equity in Healthcare Education

Sabrina Jamal Eddine 2Sabrina Ali Jamal-Eddine 

Institution: University of Illinois Chicago, College of Nursing 
Graduate Program: Ph.D. in Nursing with a Certificate in Disability Ethics 
Education: B.S. in Nursing, The Ohio State University; Intensive Summer Arabic Program, American University of Beirut 
Mentor: Dr. Sarah Abboud, UIC College of Nursing; Dr. Em Rabelais, Independent Scholar; Dr. Carrie Sandahl, UIC, Disability and Human Development; Dr. Beth Marks, UIC, Disability and Human Development; and the late Dr. Patricia Cunningham, OSU, Department of Social Change

During her Bachelor of Science in Nursing studies, Sabrina Jamal-Eddine informed a clinical instructor about her back disability and lifting limitation as well as explaining that she could do everything but except lift a patient. She was taken into an administrative office and questioned why she had applied to a major she wasn’t physically capable of doing. Jamal-Eddine explained she wouldn’t be going into bedside nursing and was well-aware there were diverse and accommodating pathways in the nursing profession.

“My long-term goal is to explore, confront and disrupt ableism (discrimination in favor of able-bodied people) in the context of nursing, applied health sciences and medical education,” said Jamal-Eddine, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), College of Nursing. “I hope to design, create and implement a variety of innovative, interdisciplinary arts and community-engaged pedagogy that will bridge that gap between critical disability studies and healthcare education by preparing healthcare students to be cognizant of, and opposed to, oppressive, ableist healthcare attitudes and practices.”

A second undergraduate major in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies fortified her desire to be a voice for change both in healthcare and healthcare education. At the beginning of her doctoral studies, she examined existing literature, which made clear there was a need to explore innovative pedagogies to educate nursing students and instructors about ableism and disability.

“I came to understand the ways in which the institution of nursing education structurally excludes disabled students from entering our profession,” said Jamal-Eddine. “These are experiences that are unfortunately shared by disabled clinical healthcare students across the nation, including disabled nursing students, medical students and applied health sciences students.”

After exploring and studying the effectiveness of spoken word poetry pieces as an undergraduate, Jamal-Eddine came to see how systemic change could be propelled through storytelling. Her doctoral research explores the use of spoken word poetry as a form of critical narrative pedagogy to educate nursing students about disability, ableism, and disability justice.

“Spoken word poetry is embodied performance poetry that centers the stories, voices and lived experiences of marginalized people through justice-oriented, anti-oppression processes of critical education and liberation,” Jamal-Eddine explained.

Her dissertation explores the practices of spoken word poetry as a pedagogical tool in disability justice education for nursing students. She looks at junior UIC nursing student perceptions of a non-traditional transformative spoken word pedagogical intervention to confront ableism and the consequential impact on the care of disabled patients.

As she continues to work on her dissertation it will inform and guide the vision and practice of spoken word poetry in the nursing and healthcare education context. Jamal-Eddine said she envisions spoken word poetry becoming one of several tools of humanizing critical narratives that challenge and disrupt harmful hegemonic ideologies within nursing education.

“I can see her helping to devise curriculum in nursing schools to make it more inclusive and more accessible to disabled students,” said Dr. Sarah Abboud, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development Nursing Science in the UIC, College of Nursing. She added that Jamal-Eddine may face resistance because nursing faculty don’t like hearing they practice and perpetuate ableism.

“I believe that stories heal and prevent unnecessary repetition of harmful oppressive cycles, and they provoke action,” said Jamal-Eddine. “Community engaged research is really vital to the liberation of oppressed communities.”   

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