Social Justice in Nursing Practice

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 4
Words: 1121
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: College


Social justice is a concept that is crucial for every person’s well-being. Scholars have examined social justice in diverse fields, including sociology and ethnic studies (Valderama‐Wallace & Apesoa‐Varano, 2019). Many people face discrimination based on racial, ethnic, educational, and several other differences and the promotion of social justice is critical in minimizing unjust treatment. Specialists in the nursing profession espouse social justice, and nurses are compelled to act when observing inequities (Horrill et al., 2020). Nurses are expected to redress the inequitable distribution of healthcare access to ensure social justice for each person within society (Horrill et al., 2020). Access to healthcare can be characterized by the ability to obtain healthcare services and the delivery of healthcare (Horrill et al., 2020). To ensure that people have equal access to high-quality care, healthcare leaders need to take more responsibility. This paper aims to recognize a social issue related to the nursing profession and determine the leadership skills required to manage the issue.

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Choice of a Social Injustice Issue

Providing people with high-quality medical care is the basis of a healthy society. However, the Canadian healthcare system is characterized by several social issues, one of them being Indigenous health. However, Canada’s health care is one of the superior ones globally, Indigenous peoples in the country encounter inequity and face poor health outcomes (Brockie et al., 2021; Horrill et al., 2020). Social injustice regarding Indigenous health is important since it refers to both receiving medical services and delivering them (Brockie et al., 2021; Horrill et al., 2020). More nurses with leadership skills are needed to enhance Indigenous peoples’ opportunities within the healthcare system.

Nurses play a significant role in addressing the social issues of Indigenous health. Nurses in Canada comprise the largest group of healthcare professionals and frequently work directly with patients in various settings such as hospitals, workplaces, schools, and different communities (Horrill et al., 2020). Therefore, nurses often encounter Indigenous patients in their practice and have opportunities to provide them with high-quality care (Horrill et al., 2020). However, whether intentionally or not, nurses participate in preventing Indigenous peoples from receiving appropriate care (Horrill et al., 2020). Although access to health care is typically associated with geographical location, it can refer to social inaccessibility and lead to breaking basic human rights (Horrill et al., 2020). Indigenous health is an issue due to racism and biases, social exclusion, and the forcible relocation of Indigenous peoples (Horrill et al., 2020). The listed reasons lead to negative experiences with health care providers, reluctance to seek care or avoid it entirely, and feeling socially unsafe and demeaned (Horrill et al., 2020). Indigenous health is endangered because of several societal problems, which affect nurses’ main purpose of helping.

Indigenous peoples within the nursing profession represent another side of the issue. While Indigenous nurses are the largest part of the Indigenous health workforce, only 3% of regulated Canadian nurses are Indigenous, with many of them facing racial prejudice at work (Brockie et al., 2021). Indigenous peoples’ education and career opportunities in nursing are limited, have little influence, and lack resources and the contributions of employed nurses are rarely reported (Brockie et al., 2021). As a result, Indigenous nurses are negated, systematic discrimination is not resolved, and the healthcare system fails to maintain a diverse workforce and meet patients’ needs (Brockie et al., 2021). The World Health Organization recognizes the significance of social justice concerning racism and discrimination, and the inferior treatment of Indigenous nurses threatens their human rights (Brockie et al., 2021). In addition to Indigenous peoples having limited access to high-quality medical care, Indigenous nurses have difficulties during education and at the workplace, jeopardizing the healthcare system.

Leadership Skills and Qualities to Promote Social Justice

Various skills are needed to prepare leaders among nurses and promote social justice. Canadian Nursing Association’s (CNA) position statement outlines skills that are essential for nurse leaders (Canadian Nursing Association [CNA], n.d.). Firstly, a nurse leader needs to be an articulate communicator (CNA, n.d.) Brockie et al. (2021) state that nurses can be agents of social change and must speak for Indigenous peoples to provide better medical care. Following that, nurses must obtain collaborative skills, and health equity can be achieved by collaborating with Indigenous groups and organizations worldwide (Brockie et al., 2021; CNA, n.d.). As Indigenous peoples often get discriminated against, they become silenced, and nurse leaders are responsible for communicating people’s rights by cooperating with those in power.

Several more skills are crucial in nursing leadership and addressing Indigenous health. Leaders in the nursing profession must be role models and visionaries, and they can employ these abilities by exposing inequities, changing policies, developing non-racist care, and recruiting Indigenous nurses (Brockie et al., 2021; CNA, n.d.). Furthermore, nurse leaders need to advocate for quality and safety in providing care, and Indigenous nurses are considered pivotal in ensuring culturally safe healthcare services (Brockie et al., 2021; CNA, n.d.). A nurse leader should be a role model by providing an example to others with a practice that is focused on quality care.

Biases within society cause the risk to Indigenous health, which consequences in workplace discrimination and limited health care services, requiring an action plan. The nurse’s role in promoting social justice is recognizing health equity as a core value and strengthening the idea that health care is equally accessible to everyone (Horrill et al., 2020). Leadership skills are important on a personal level and for nursing in general because, in addition to CNA’s position statement, leadership requires self-knowledge, respect, and trust (College of Nurses of Ontario [CNO], 2018). CNA’s leadership skills align with the College of Nurses of Ontario’s (CNO) Code of Conduct in providing patients with high-quality care and collaborating with other professionals (CNO, 2019a). The Code of Conduct represents the accountabilities of nurses and states they have to appreciate patients’ dignity, work respectfully with colleagues, and act with integrity (CNO, 2019a). Finally, one should remember the CNO’s statement that all nurses are leaders in all practice settings at all times (CNO, 2019b). As nurses can be everyday leaders in any position, they are obliged to promote social justice and prevent inequities.

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Nurses’ Role in Promoting Social Justice

Nurses need to be trained in leadership to address the issue of Indigenous health and promote social justice. The social problem exists because of racism and biases within society and represents the unjust treatment of Indigenous peoples as patients and nurses. Leaders in the nursing profession need to provide an example with their work, assure high-quality care and patient safety, collaborate, and communicate to guarantee that the healthcare system meets Indigenous people’s needs. By addressing an issue such as Indigenous health, nurse leaders can begin changes and guide the way toward social justice.


Brockie, T., Clark, T. C., Best, O., Power, T., Bourque Bearskin, L., Kurtz, D. L., & Wilson, D. (2021). Indigenous social exclusion to inclusion: Case studies on Indigenous nursing leadership in four high income countries. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 1-15. Web.

Canadian Nurses Association. (n.d.). Nursing leadership CNA Position. Web.

College of Nurses of Ontario. (2018). Professional standards. Web.

College of Nurses of Ontario. (2019a). Code of conduct. Web.

College of Nurses of Ontario. (2019b). When nurses lead, patients are safer. Web.

Horrill, T. C., Martin, D. E., Lavoie, J. G., & Schultz, A. S. (2020). Nurses as agents of disruption: Operationalizing a framework to redress inequities in healthcare access among Indigenous Peoples. Nursing Inquiry, 28(3), 1-14. Web.

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Valderama‐Wallace, C. P., & Apesoa‐Varano, E. C. (2019). “Social justice is a dream”: Tensions and contradictions in nursing education. Public Health Nursing, 36(5), 735-743. Web.