Discussion: advocating for social justice

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To prepare for this Discussion, you will need to read the assigned chapters, and then consider the following questions:

1. What does social justice mean to you? Is social justice the same as socialized medicine or even communism? 

2. The notion of social justice is fairness so that everyone can achieve a certain level of health and wellness. After all, the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to pursue happiness. Is the health care system fair?

3.If you could wave a magic wand and fix the health care system, what is the first thing you would notice indicating that it had changed? Or, in your opinion, do you think it needs to be changed at all?

 

Information on the Discussions

Lancaster (2016) noted that the ethical foundation of public health is rooted in ideals from the Enlightenment, a period of human history characterized by scientific thought, regard for the individual rights, and concerns for the disadvantaged. It marked a period of time from the 1700s to the mid-1850s during which individuals were freed from medieval thinking and embraced concerns for humanity and promotion of social justice. Social justice is founded in the idea that all persons are entitled to an equal share of societal burdens and benefits (Turnock, 2016). Social justice recognizes that there are definite barriers to equal distribution of benefits and burdens, such as class distinctions, heredity, and discrimination or bias due to, for example, sexual preference, race, or gender (Turnock, 2016). Extending the benefits of physical and behavioral science to those who are burdened unequally by disease and poor health is the overarching goal of public health (Turnock, 2016). According to Powers and Faden (2004), no society can be considered just if some segments of the population are afforded less regard and respect because of their socioeconomic status, race, gender, or sexual orientation. The Institute of Medicine defined the purpose of public health as creating the conditions for people to be healthy, which Powers and Faden (2004) viewed as a direct outcome of social justice.

Nurses play an important role in assuring social justice. Historically, nurses such as Lillian Wald, Mary Brewster, and Florence Nightingale worked tirelessly to assure that the most disadvantaged segments of the population received access to health care. Nurses must continue to be the voice for the underserved to assure access to consistent, efficient, and effective health care (Lancaster, 2016).

References

Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. (2016). Public health nursing: Population-centered health care in the community (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier. 

  • Chapter 2, “History of Public Health and Public and Community Health Nursing” (pp. 22–43)
  • Chapter 6, “Application of Ethics in the Community” (pp. 121–138)
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