Social Justice in Nursing: Opinion Essay

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Social justice is the action of trying to eliminate, if not reduce the disadvantages experienced by certain groups in populations by distributing resources fairly throughout the population. When talking about resources, it is meant as more than just services that are available, such as public transit. They are defined as “an aspect of having a positive effect on health, such as security of food, sufficient housing, reliable employment, good working conditions, adequate income, education, inclusion in society, and the social safety net” (Canadian Nurses Association, 2009). The social determinants of health are defined as the conditions in which a person is born into and lives in, such as social, and economic factors (Canadian Nurses Association). Social justice in nursing is strongly related to the social determinants of health, which makes it the responsibility of nurses.

Social justice is part of nursing because nurses are morally obligated to sociopolitical advocacy in the practice. This practice is not just something that is done once, but has to be practiced everyday in order to overcome discrimination, and oppression that is encountered in the health care system (Canadian Nurses Association, 2009). Social justice is important in nursing because health is connected to the social determinants of health. The inequality in accessing good food and housing connected to a decrease in health in the population therefore there will be unequal health outcomes for patients. One of the goals as a nurse is “to promote health, to prevent illness, to restore health and to alleviate suffering” (Grace & Willis, 2012). Advocating for social justice will create a safe environment in which a client may not be discriminated against or oppressed. Part of the values as a nurse is to promote a healing environment (Canadian Nurses Association, 2009).

Half of all registered nurses work in a full-time community setting. These nurses are at the frontlines when it comes to knowing social determinants, and the importance of social justice, as well as its relationship to health (Quinn, El Ghaziri, & Knight, 2019). A nurse has access to different resources and is able to reach out to address these issues through other organizations, such as housing support, food banks, and social workers. Nurses then become a cooperative role linked to hospitals and community organizations. “There are seven social determinants of health; conditions of early childhood, access to education, employment and working conditions, income, access to healthy food, access to housing, social inclusion, and built and natural environment” (Canadian Nurses Association).

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I have learned from the literature on social justice that nurses need to be vocal about the needs of their patients and have a good understanding of what needs to be done in order to help their patients, despite the social determinants of health. Nurses also need to be aware of their biases in order to prevent any disadvantages that this may cause to the patients. It is important for nurses to be involved in policymaking because they are at the forefront of taking care of their patients. They see every day how the social determinants of health have impacted the people in the community; therefore, it would make sense for nurses to be involved with policymaking in order to insure the best possible outcome for the community and their patients. (Rushton, 2017)

I knew social justice was an important issue nurses needed to face in the workplace and even practice outside of work. However, I did not know just how closely related the social determinants of health were with social justice. Throughout my research I have found that nursing is more than just healing someone’s wounds and taking care of people in hospital. Nursing is about standing up for your patient when they need it and making sure they get the best care possible. Nursing is about providing patients with resources they may need in order to increase their chance at health. It is about making sure resources are in the community for the people who need it so the social determinants of health will not be such a negative factor in someone’s health. (Canadian Nurses Association)

In my learning plan, one of the indicators I picked was 1.1 “being accountable and accepting responsibility for their actions, inactions, decisions and the evaluation of their own practice” (Nova Scotia College of Nursing, 2017). This can pertain to social justice but making sure my patients get the best care from me. The other indicator I used was 1.4 “exercising reasonable judgment and seeking assistance appropriately” (Nova Scotia College of Nursing, 2017). This pertains to social justice because as a nurse you need to have the judgement to see the effects of the social determinants of health and the effect they have on the patients and the community. It is also important to realize you may not have all the answers and you may need help in order to provide the best care for your patient. Seeking assistance from other healthcare providers and social workers will provide the best possible care for your patients.

When I go into clinical settings and eventually become a nurse, I will incorporate social justice in my everyday practice by knowing the social determinants of health. Being aware people may feel uncomfortable discussing their situation. I’ll remain unbiased and unjudgmental, towards their different situations. I want to be able to give my patients the best possible care, and therefore I need to be aware of the resources available so when my patients need them, I am able to give them that information or connect them with someone who can.

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Social Justice in Nursing: Opinion Essay. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 19, 2024, from
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