Implementing Change: Social Justice as a Platform for Nursing Education

Monday, 9 November 2015: 10:00 AM

Katrina Einhellig, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN, CNE
Faye I. Hummel, PhD, RN, CTN-A
Courtney E. Gryskiewicz, BSN, ADN, BS, RN
School of Nursing, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO, USA

Although the AACN Baccalaureate Essentials (2008) have identified social justice as one of five professional values, the development of curricula that fundamentally supports this value have been slow to develop. There currently exists a lack of information in the literature that establishes best practice for educational strategies that effectively integrate social justice into nursing curriculum. 

It is not enough to integrate the concept of social justice in nursing curriculum in order to achieve knowledge development by nursing students; we must focus on the acquisition of thinking and the progression toward skills by which students identify the myriad of variables that exist to prevent social justice within healthcare.

Inequities in the current healthcare system are well documented.  Nurses serve as the largest group of healthcare providers, and the preparation they receive in their nursing education creates the foundation to assist patients toward equitable care, often nurses make the difference between a positive and negative outcome for the patient (Mill, Astle, Ogilvie, & Gastaldo, 2010).  It becomes critical for nursing educators to ensure that graduates have been exposed to all aspects of the construct of social justice and the various ways that they can provide advocacy for the marginalized.

Based on a needs assessment, a school of nursing has identified potential for growth in the curricular thread of social justice. Nursing students must be educated on their role in creating a social justice agenda in healthcare.  The purpose of this presentation is to discuss strategies used in the integration of social justice content across an undergraduate nursing curriculum, emphasizing strategies that enhance the affective learning of the student. 

Nursing faculty used learning strategies designed for each semester of the undergraduate nursing curriculum that is interactive in nature as well as enhancing the affective learning for the students (Ondreijka, 2014).  Focus of the presentation will be on the integration of these strategies in a way that does not create further burden for faculty, yet creates an environment that enhances the understanding of social justice.