UofL nursing faculty and students in attendance at the National Black Nurses Association's 2019 annual conference
UofL nursing faculty and students in attendance at the National Black Nurses Association's 2019 annual conference in New Orleans

Decades ago, Vicki Hines-Martin pioneered an organization to bring together African American nurses in the local region. As a founder of the KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville, Hines-Martin has dedicated her life to support other nurses of color and address health disparities in minority populations. UofL News reached out to Hines-Martin, the School of Nursing’s associate dean for the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity Inclusion, to talk about the history and importance of such organizations for both current and future nurses.

UofL News: When did the local National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) chapter begin?

Vicki Hines-Martin
Vicki Hines-Martin

Vicki Hines-Martin: The original KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville started in 1986 as a local organization whose membership were interested black nurses in Jefferson County or southern Indiana. I was a faculty member at Jefferson Community College when we began. The current KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville became an affiliate chapter of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) in 1994.

UofL News: Describe the climate at the time and the impetus for starting this organization.

Vicki Hines-Martin: As with many community settings and among health care, there was little focus on minority populations’ needs or an understanding of the importance of diversity within the health care industry. I frequently brought attention to these absences and the impact on health care outcomes. I was one of very few African Americans throughout college and during my early career as a clinician or educator. I felt isolated and wanted to know if others also felt that, so I invited AA nurses I knew to a meeting at my house and discussed their experiences and explored their interest in forming an organization to educate other nurses and provide mutual support. It grew from there over the years. I was the first president and other committed nurses followed.

UofL News: How has the KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville supported nurses of color throughout the years?

Vicki Hines-Martin: We have always provided support through our annual conferences in the past and later through the more recent gala events. During those events, we provided professional development, recognized excellence among our membership and provided scholarships for nursing students who applied for funding to continue their education in nursing (from LPN through PhD). Over the years KYANNA has provided almost 50 scholarships.

UofL News: The National Black Nurses Association this year celebrates 50 years at the upcoming annual conference in Chicago, July 26 – 31. Several UofL nursing faculty and students will be in attendance. What does it mean for our students to be a part of this historic celebration?

Vicki Hines-Martin: I am certain that students will be excited to see and hear the history of black nurses and their contributions to the advancement of healthcare in the United States. Many nurses they have read about will be present and NBNA is noted for its welcoming and inclusive activities for all attendees, especially the students. This attitude lays a foundation for students to be attracted to membership in a professional organization that reflects their experiences and their future goals. They will have the opportunity to network and meet other students who will later become colleagues. Although they might not fully understand the historic nature of this year’s conference, over time it will be an experience they will reflect on and have greater appreciation for their involvement this event.

UofL News: What do you hope will be the future of the local NBNA chapter?

Vicki Hines-Martin: I am hopeful that the organization will continue to be active in the community, provide mutual support and recognition for nurses of color and to increase its ability to provide financial and mentoring support for future nurses and those who are advancing their educations. Through all these activities, KYANNA will continue to build a solid reputation as a professional organization that is one exemplar of the best in nursing.

UofL News: Anything else you’d like to share?

Vicki Hines-Martin: I’m very proud of the organization and although I won’t be able to attend the convention, it gives me great joy to know that UofL nursing faculty and our students will be a part of this historic event and will represent UofL, KYANNA, and myself as well as other nurses in our community very well.