The nursing craft, although focused primarily on providing quality health care to the community, cannot be perceived in isolation from the country’s socio-political landscape. Indeed, years of nursing experience have provided me insight into the profession, suggesting that nurses are obligated to be community advocates because they are frontline workers who explicitly notice the existing issues. As a result, nurses witness the acts of social injustice and employ emancipatory knowing that stands for the process of recognizing nursing through the lens of social justice (Lyckhage et al., 2018). The present reflection paper examines how critical thinking and emancipatory knowing encouraged me to react to social injustice in nursing practice.
For as long as I have been working as a nurse, I have witnessed examples of social and language gaps existing between healthcare providers and ethnic and racial minorities. The issue, however, was especially evident for the Spanish-speaking segment of patients. On several occasions, I needed to communicate with Spanish-speaking patients, and we both required the professional assistance of a translator to bridge the communication gap. Fortunately, I was able to ask one of the bilingual staff nurses to help us, but the constant need to assist Spanish-speaking patients disrupted her workflow. After conducting preliminary research, I found that the issue of translation lack was prevalent across the country. For example, in a pilot study by Morocho et al. (2021), the authors mentioned that “Spanish-speaking trauma patients lack autonomy, empowerment, and understanding their medical conditions” (“Conclusions” section). Hence, I decided to address the issue of social injustice for ethnic minorities and suggest hiring a full-time translator for the hospital.
To convey my proposal, I addressed the hospital administration, including the nurse manager, the HR division, and the hospital manager. After hearing my proposal, the administration acknowledged the relevance of this problem to health care, yet they were not sure if the hospital was ready to allocate costs to hire a full-time translator as part of the team. At this point, I appointed a one-on-one meeting with a community health nurse that holds expertise in social change and the costs required. Together, we analyzed the prospects of onboarding a translator as a potential contributor to better patient outcomes. Thus, according to Johnson & Johnson’s (2019) survey, there is a distinct connection between ensuring positive patient outcomes and saving costs for the hospital. Essentially, once holistic care is provided, there is a lower risk of readmissions and patient dissatisfaction.
Presenting this argument to the nurse manager facilitated the introduction of the change to the unit. As a result, the unit invited a part-time Spanish translator who secured communication with the Spanish-speaking patients. After personal interactions with the patients, I noticed that they were more confident and optimistic about their hospital stay. Indeed, they did not feel marginalized and knew what exactly was happening to them during the interventions.
Looking back at my experience, I would be more critical of the proposal and its perception by the management. Essentially, I assumed that the administration would be as preoccupied with this issue as I was, but they, in fact, prioritized the needs of all the hospital units and financial challenges. For this reason, the next time I am willing to introduce any changes, I will appraise social injustice through the lens of its impact on the hospital, staff, and patients.
Johnson & Johnson. (2019). Health system leaders shift top focus from costs to patient outcomes [PDF document]. Web.
Lyckhage, E. D., Brink, E., & Lindahl, B. (2018). A theoretical framework for emancipatory nursing with a focus on environment and persons’ own and shared lifeworld. Advances in Nursing Science, 41(4), 340-350. Web.
Morocho, C., Joplin, T. N., Lopez, K., Ortiz, D., Goergen, C. J., & Meagher, A. (2021). How translators affect the experience and healthcare of primary Spanish-speaking patients in the trauma department. Proceedings of IMPRS, 4(1). Web.