Social justice refers to the benefits and disparities that members of society experience (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). There are three theories on how one achieves social justice: egalitarian, libertarian, and liberal democratic (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). Egalitarianism advocates for the government ensuring equal rights and treatment by all members of society (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). Libertarianism recognizes the right to equality and liberty, while advocating for the right to private property and minimal to no government control or intervention, relying on individuals to determine their own fate (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). Liberal democratic ideology encompasses both the belief that we all have the right to liberty and equality, while recognizing, and attempting to compensate for both organic and inorganic disadvantages that are acquired from time of birth to time of death (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016).
A public health nurse should focus on promoting and ensuring wellness to all persons in a way that is cost effective, indiscriminate, and allows autonomy (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). This is difficult to achieve when we have documented issues of socioeconomic disparities that can be demonstrated when people are categorized by race, sex, gender, and sexual orientation (US Census Bureau, 2020). While going over our weekly reading I came across the term “assurance”. Assurance is making sure that health services are available, including to those who would not otherwise receive them (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). This can be a daunting initiative when dealing with some of the most marginalized segments of society (homeless, transgender, undocumented persons etc.), who frequently abstain from seeking medical treatment (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016).
Eliminating, or even minimizing healthcare disparities, needs to extend beyond the healthcare system and into society at large. Law makers and community leaders need to work together to figure out why data shows that socioeconomic disparities are so prevalent amongst clearly defined groups. Unfortunately, listening to narrative commentary on any news channel or a simple scroll through social media shows that we aren’t making much progress on these issues. Even worse, decades of research has indicated that there is systemic racism in the U.S. health system (Feagin & Bennefield, 2014). So, what can a nurse do? Can we change the healthcare industry when this is a societal problem? I think it is important that we advocate for an ethical standard in our respective workplaces, that encompasses fair and equal treatment to not only our patients, but also our coworkers. I have witnessed obvious differences in treatment of both groups that is dependent on any number of demographic categories. I am curious if other members of the class have experienced the same.
Discussion Questions #2:
Does the constitution guarantee the right to pursue happiness? Nope, not in there. Does the constitution guarantee everyone the right to fairness? Again no. Who says life is fair? Why does one person get to live long enough to obtain their senior discounted coffee at McDonald’s, and the other die young? Should society bear the responsibility for the poor life choices made by its members? What the constitution does guarantee is equality under the law. The law applies to everyone regardless of skin color, religion, sex, or national origin. Equality, however, does not imply uniformity. Communism attempts to enforce uniformity on society, suppressing the rights and privileges of its members (Novak, 2019).
Health care in the United States is not equitable. With insurance provided through my job, I can acquire preventive healthcare services that are generally not provided during an ED visit. One of the roles of public health is to assure that essential community health services are available for everyone (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). Nurses should advocate for the disenfranchised, working to ensure that essential health care resources are available for all people, and public policy should support nursings’ efforts to provide equitable care for every member of society (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). Equality should not be just for the healthcare sector but for all areas of life that affect health. Healthy, fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables should be available to all at affordable prices. Community resources that support healthy activities such as parks and recreation should be available to all, regardless of what community in which they reside. Equitable does not mean free; rather, it is equitable that all members of society should share in the burden of public services (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016).
As members of society, personal responsibility is necessary for law and order. Personal responsibility must be balanced with free rights. The “common good” is often spoken of as something noble, but quickly becomes totalitarianism in the hands of politicians (Novak, 2019).