All books begin with Chapter One, and in Britney Daniels’ book, the first chapter starts at Waubonsee Community College.
“Today, we make a promise, a promise to practice compassion and respect,” Daniels writes. “A promise to be good nurses, not great nurses, but incomparable and unstoppable nurses.”
The passage comes from Daniels’ new book, “Journal of a Black Queer Nurse”, an achievement that adds published author to an already-impressive resume for the 2017 graduate of Waubonsee’s nursing program. The words she opens her first chapter with are drawn from her speech at her Waubonsee pinning ceremony.
“Graduation from Waubonsee was the prologue to my life, my professional life,” Daniels said. “I meant every word of that speech; every line was so intentional and that’s why it’s always stayed with me and why I included it in the book.”
Drawn to Waubonsee for its affordability and flexibility, Daniels navigated her way through the nursing program while also working as a healthcare assistant. It was a heavy load to balance, but Daniels found a community at Waubonsee unlike anything she had experienced before.
“I just felt like I belonged, I felt like we as a collective group were struggling with the complexities of the undergrad nursing program and all that comes with that. It made us feel like a community,” Daniels said.
Daniels’ career path after Waubonsee was anything but boring, from working in the Emergency Department of a small, rural hospital, to becoming a travel nurse and experiencing medical disparities in communities across the country.
Daniels said she chose these areas of nursing to encounter and care for people from all walks of life.
“I didn’t want to limit myself or pigeon-hole myself into a specific demographic of patient, I knew that I wanted to care for all types of communities, all ages, and I didn’t want to have a limited view of medicine,” she said. “It really educated me more than I could ever imagine on the healthcare disparities that exist outside of our neighborhoods.”
Daniels witnessed many injustices and discriminations as she traveled to various communities, and early in her career, found it difficult to speak up. But she was taking notes - literally and figuratively - and knew these experiences would shape her career and herself as a person.
It is these experiences that eventually became the book that is “Journal of a Black Queer Nurse”, and many of the stories detail discrimination Daniels experienced at the hands of her patients.
One story in particular stands out. A patient, when encountering Daniels, asked if any white nurses were available.
“Sorry, we’re fresh out of white nurses,” Daniels replied at the time. Looking back on the conversation, Daniels realized she had more patience and empathy than she ever thought she had.
“At the end of the day, I made a promise as a nurse to take care of people, and that’s what I’m going to do and I’m going to do it the best way I can, regardless of how you think or how you feel,” she said.
Daniels’ book is an honest memoir that encourages nurses, especially those from marginalized communities, to be warriors in their work.
“I want people to take away from this book an appreciation for seeing things through my eyes and through my perspective of my queer body and my black skin and be able to appreciate using that lens temporarily to see how things operate within the hospital,” Daniels said. “I hope people take away the idea that we could be doing a lot better as a community if we think about what we could do to show more love, to show more support and to show more understanding to one another. Everyone has a story, instead of making assumptions about one another, we should spend more time learning about one another.”
Learn more about Britney and purchase her book on her website, https://blackqueernurse.co/