The goal of nursing is to help facilitate the best possible outcome for any patient. In order to achieve the best possible outcome, nurses recognize that there are numerous systems and regulations that might not support or protect everyone. A lack of diversity within any given system or organization might result in the marginalization of groups based on aspects of diversity such as ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender. These persons might often find themselves in a situation where help is needed, but without a clear path to seek help. Nursing can aim to address this specific issue because it encourages ways to provide assistance, via treatment or education, to marginalized groups who might not otherwise know where or how to seek assistance. By addressing not only issues related to physical health, but also psychological and developmental issues also, nursing can provide a holistic path toward the personal betterment for all persons, including those who may find themselves marginalized by society. (Cox, Tice & Long, 2015).
Nurses are expected to work with persons from all walks of life. Colleagues and patients alike will be diverse in numerous ways, which is one of the values of professional nursing. Nursing is predicated on the notion that all persons are deserving of care. However, the current healthcare system continues to allow for socioeconomic disparities on an institutional level. Nurses can help stem these disparities by continuing to work with advocacy and social work groups, as well as implement community interventions to advocate for health care needs of marginalized persons. Even by providing resources and education, many healthcare problems can be addressed (Pacquiao, 2012). For instance, mental health care nurses can often empower individuals by giving them the knowledge they might need to become self-sufficient and productive members of society.
One way that nurses can better understand the needs of marginalized or vulnerable communities is through participation and experience. By working closely not only with individuals, but also within these communities as a whole, one can gain a better understanding of the social and cultural influences that may be affecting health outcomes. For instance, understanding how socioeconomic disparity might be affecting one population can bring insights on the types of health issues this disparity creates. Those who live in densely packed urban housing might not have access to nutritious food, as their neighborhood might only have convenience stores and fast food restaurants. In turn, this might result in a higher prevalence of diabetes or obesity. By understanding the causes of certain health issues from a sociocultural perspective, better forms of education and interventions can be implemented, either through outreach or advocacy means. Once these particular systemic issues are understood more clearly, which results from working closely within a certain community, better outcomes can ideally be achieved.
The reward of nursing is knowing that one’s work can result in a significant and positive improvement in someone else’s life. A nurse’s perspective or attitude toward a certain group can often change after witnessing positive and healthier changes as the result of a nursing intervention. This occurs not only on an individual level, for the person receiving treatment, but also his or her friends and family as well. Beyond this, positive change can be identified on a community scale. Interventions against drug addiction or teenage pregnancy, which can often be implemented by educating the community, can see positive and quantifiable results if they are successful. Nursing seeks to address more than a particular trauma or isolated injury; instead, nursing considers that there are many potential issues affecting an individual, including cultural and socioeconomic circumstance. These issues affect more than the individual, as they have an impact on the individuals friends and family as well (Flaskerud et al., 2012). Rather than treating a specific ailment, nursing on the whole tries to find solutions that can help prevent or lessen the severity of health issues that might be related to conditions imposed by marginalization.
The more informed nurses become on the needs of marginalized persons, the better nurses will understand the issues being faced by marginalized persons, and more effective advocacy efforts can be implemented. By providing funding for healthcare interventions targeted towards marginalized groups, the range of services that nurses will be able to offer will also expand, resulting in better outcomes. Advocacy seeks to direct resources to those in need; by advocating for more inclusive services and care, along with the provision of resources such as counseling and job placement services, conditions that afflict marginalized communities such as drug addiction, higher rates of mental health issues, and increased crime rates will ideally be reduced. The goal is to work both with individuals and the community at large; by understanding the systemic forms of marginalization that might result from socioeconomic disparity or other inequality, better outcomes can be achieved for all.
In order to provide the best possible care, nurses should be open to working with diverse groups of people, including those who may be marginalized. The more one participates directly in their care, the more empathy will be gained. Effective nursing can often better an individual’s circumstances through empathic care, as well as providing marginalized groups resources such as knowledge and increased accessibility to health care services that they might need. In this regard, nursing is intrinsically connected to issues of diversity, as the reason many communities might find themselves marginalized is because of systemic conditions that unfortunately continue to oppress certain groups. By working closely with these communities, nurses can become more aware of their needs and continue to work toward providing the best possible outcomes, both physically and mentally, while also identifying ways that systemic oppression afflicting these communities can be reduced.
- De Chesnay, M. (2015). Caring for the vulnerable: Perspectives in nursing theory, practice, and research. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
- Flaskerud, J. H., Lesser, J., Dixon, E., Anderson, N., Conde, F., Kim, S., … & Verzemnieks, I. (2012). Health disparities among vulnerable populations: evolution of knowledge over five decades in Nursing Research publications. Nursing Research, 51(2), 74-85.
- Pacquiao, D. F. (2012). Nursing care of vulnerable populations using a framework of cultural competence, social justice and human rights. Contemporary Nurse, 28(1-2), 189-197.