When Nada Hassanein read the press release about a survey that shed light on racism nurses of color are enduring in the workplace, she seized the opportunity to write a story to give real-world context to the findings. In telling the story, the environmental and health inequities reporter for USA Today, said she wanted to “weave [the survey results] into a kind of narrative about nurses’ experiences.”
In this “How I Did It,” Hassanein shares her reporting process for the story, talks about why leaning heavily on data may matter more for some stories over others, and offers tips for cultivating and building the trust that allows sources to open up about painful experiences.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
You get this press release and decide that there’s a bigger story here other than the survey. What was your next step? How did you find the sources for the story?
First, I asked the [National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing] if someone from the Commission — a nurse of color — would be willing to talk with me. And that nurse connected me with other nurses that are not part of the Commission.
How hard was it for nurses to be candid about their experiences?
The nurses I spoke with were quite open and candid about their experiences. I think they felt that someone was listening and, therefore, were willing to share their experiences.
How did you weave in context about the profession?
I found demographic breakdowns of nursing staff or registered nurses in certain states to show how they are minorities or underrepresented. Being a health reporter, I see a lot of discussion about racism among physicians and residents but less so about nurses.