Integrating Social Justice in Nursing Practice

Summary

Social justice is a way of thinking that solves many inequalities in life. It generally refers to the ideology that everyone, regardless of their race, gender, status, or sex, deserves equal economic, political and social rights and access to opportunities (Miller et al., 2016). Social justice and health care are immanently tied. One’s access to health care is indirectly dependent on their level of education, employment, status and the environment they live in (“What are examples of social justice in health care? “, 2021). Consequently, marginalized minority groups, for example, tend to be vulnerable to inequalities in health care (Miller et al., 2016).

These social determinants of health include a range of factors, including many aspects of one’s social and physical environment as well as health services available to them. A clear example of these inequalities is seen in the disparities in stillbirths among black and white women – more stillbirths and complications of pregnancies occur among black women than white women (Martin et al., 2021). While health care providers seek to minimize these disparities, social justice will remain fundamental to the practice of nursing.

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Diversity in the nursing workforce refers to having a workforce that comprises people from various religions, races, genders, sexual affiliations and physical statuses. Diversity in nursing allows for improved communication between health care providers and patients. Once the gender, race, religion, or physical characteristics of a patient and those of the nursing workforce align, the patient feels more comfortable and at ease with sharing (Gouge et al., 2019).

Health care providers with better cultural competency and awareness have a better chance of providing better, socially just health care (Miller et al., 2016). For instance, in my experience, it is usually difficult to get information from abusers of various drugs. Some of them are always in constant fear that in revealing more details, they might reveal their addictions. In such cases, it is easier to let other nurses who have something in common with these patients to attend to them. Generally, health systems that boast diverse representation are more valuable to patients and provide more socially-just care.

Family-centered care involves caring for children and their families through a family-professional partnership that is respectful and honors the cultural diversity and expertise of everyone in that partnership. All these participants make decisions together. This type of care develops policies that are family-friendly. Patient-centered care, on the other hand, involves caring for patients in a way that respects and responds to their needs of the said patient (O’Neill, 2016). It is aimed at empowering patients to be active participants in their health care. The use of technology generally supports and permits the application of patient-centered care. Both family-centered and patient-centered care have considerable benefits and form tenets of socially just and good health care.

Importance of Social Justice in Nursing

Social justice in nursing requires the affordability of high-quality health care that is made accessible to everyone. All nurses and health care administrators should aim to always advocate for and protect human rights and social justice concerns. There are multiple methods of promoting social justice (Andermann, 2016). These include training nurses on advocating for their patient’s interests, creating various methods of delivering health care and being aware of issues affecting minority groups during budgeting and targeting to offset these issues (“What are examples of social justice in health care? “, 2021).

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Creating a culturally aware working environment for nurses where staff members can speak various languages is also key in promoting social justice as it offsets language barriers between some patients and nurses. The use of virtual clinic services also allows primary care providers to get and send information online from and to patients, as well as monitor the patients’ activities and vital signs. Through such tactics, previously marginalized groups can now easily access affordable health care.

Barriers to Providing Socially-Just Care

Many demographics face various barriers in their bids to access health care. Communication between patients and nurses is key in the provision of socially-just care. Language barriers between nurses and patients is among the barriers that majorly limit the quality of healthcare services provided to these patients (Andermann, 2016). This creates a huge demand for interpreters that are well versed in the medical field. However, the current high demand for interpreters that are fluent in medical terminology outweighs the current supply. Until this deficit is met, language barriers will keep holding back the efforts of nurses among other health care providers.

Individual cultural beliefs also form another barrier. These beliefs affect our decision regarding seeking healthcare and in instances where medical healthcare is avoided by the patients or when medical information is scarce, the quality of care administered is very low. Health disparities arising from subtle discrimination, bias and marginalization also limit our ability to provide socially-just health care. These biases are systemic and affirm the already existing social disadvantages (Andermann, 2016).

Examples of health disparities are evident in the fact that some populations have higher rates of illness, mortality, life expectancy, health insurance or even access to care than other demographics. However, these health disparities are also avoidable through formulation and application of appropriate socially-just policies. Nurses ought to find ways to overcome these barriers and ensure social justice in the provision of healthcare.

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Recommendations for Providing Health Promotion Activities

In a bid to foster good health and prevent ill-health among a diverse population, the following health promotion ideas may be used. Health care providers may use culturally-adapted interventions where aspects of a specific culture that influence health and well-being the most are supported. Additionally, health promotion messages are delivered through the appropriate channels, such as using people, places, clothing, music and food that are generally accepted and loved by the target demographic.

This will significantly boost the receptivity of the message. Furthermore, having a diverse workforce to advise people on what they should do to live healthy lives also boosts the receptivity of their message (Martin et al., 2021). Other strategies such as creating supportive environments for the target demographic, strengthening community action, developing personal skills and building healthy public policies may help in implementing effective health promotion activities (Gouge et al., 2019). Through these methods and many others, health promotion activities are made possible and successful.

In order to ensure the equitable distribution of resources for positive health, all health care providers ought to minimize barriers to social justice and provide health promotion activities. Nurses, in particular, should adhere to the ethical principles of nursing and strive for social justice. They should constantly and inflexibly be at the forefront in advocating for human rights and social justice concerns. Additionally, every nurse should at all times honor their commitment to upholding the Code of Ethics for Nurses. This way, all healthcare providers will be able to provide better healthcare services.

References

Andermann, A. (2016). Taking action on the social determinants of health in clinical practice: A framework for health professionals. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 188(17-18), E474–E483. Web.

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Gouge, J., Gilson, L., & Gumede, T. (2019). Affordability, availability and acceptability barriers to health care for the chronically ill. BMC Health Services Research, 9(1), 1–18. Web.

Martin, J., Driscoll, A., & Hamilton, B. (2021). National Vital Statistics Report. National Center for Health Statistics, 70(2), 1–50.

Miller, J., Leininger, M., Andrews, M. & Ludwig-Beymer, I. (2016). What is social justice? Web.

O’Neill, N. (2016). The Eight Principles of Patient-Centered Care. Oneview Healthcare. Web.

What are examples of social justice in health care? Regis College Online. (2021). Web.

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