1. Thurman, Whitney RN, MSN
  2. Pfitzinger-Lippe, Megan PhD, MSN, RN

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We would like to thank Doris Brown for her comments regarding our recently published article "Returning to the Profession's Roots: Social Justice in Nursing Education for the 21st Century." We appreciate her thoughtful comments regarding the need to integrate social justice as a core concept throughout the curriculum. We would like to offer a few comments in response to her letter.


We largely agree with Ms Brown's assertion that academia and the health care system as a whole must address institutional racism. However, we disagree that this must be the first step taken. Indeed, it seems counterproductive to wait for the dismantling of racist structures to occur before restructuring curricula with a goal of integrating social justice throughout the curriculum. Although we do not believe that integrating social justice as a core concept throughout prelicensure nursing curricula is a panacea for the health disparities and systemic injustices that plague our society, knowledge is a prerequisite for action, and we believe that education is a good first step. Perhaps a workforce of health care professionals with better education on social justice can initiate the deconstruction of institutional racism.


We appreciate Ms Brown's suggestions for additional concrete steps that can be immediately implemented to advance the goal of developing more socially aware and politically activated nurses. It is certainly interesting to ponder the effect that the Joint Commission could have by stipulating demonstration of social justice outcomes as one of its requirements. Likewise, the call to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses to provide more leadership in this area by synthesizing available literature and developing specific guidelines could be tremendously beneficial.


In conclusion, we are grateful for Ms Brown's support of our call for enhanced social justice education within prelicensure programs. We truly believe that a return to nursing's roots in social reform and political activism can enact needed change within the current health care climate. Only by being properly educated to have a heightened awareness of social justice within health care can nurses serve as effective agents for change.


-Whitney Thurman, RN, MSN


-Megan Pfitzinger-Lippe, PhD, MSN, RN