1. Bell, Sue Ellen PhD, APRN, BC

Article Content


The purpose of this paper is to describe the contemporary theories of social justice and demonstrate how they can be applied in CNS Public/Community Health Nursing Practice.



Nursing leaders in Public/Community Health Nursing have identified social justice as one of the underpinnings of our practice. However, social justice and a method for applying it to practice have not been explicated.



Health departments and agencies across the country are faced with budget cuts and downsizing of staff and programs. In these settings, advanced practice public/community health nurses are challenged to provide healthcare promotion and illness prevention to a growing population with ever-decreasing resources. While it is well documented in the nursing literature that nurses in all settings face ethical conflicts regarding distribution of limited healthcare resources, little emphasis has been placed on nurses' knowledge of social justice theory and how application of different theories in practice may influence outcomes of care.



This paper summarizes the current literature on social justice theory and describes how each theoretical approach to social justice leads to distinct nursing actions.



In the Socratic spirit of "the unexamined life is not worth living," this paper's illustration of the various theories of social justice may help Public/Community Health CNSs to acknowledge what we mean when we say that our practice is founded in social justice and how our approach to practice reflects this knowledge.



At a time when all educators, regardless of content area, are being questioned about their political leanings, it may be necessary for CNS educators in Public/Community Health Nursing to demonstrate the connection between the theoretical basis of our practice and the necessary political means for achieving our desired outcomes.


Implications for Practice:

In order to examine our application of social justice in practice, Public/Community Health CNSs must be able to clearly differentiate the practice implications of contemporary theories and articulate our public stance as promoters of social justice.