1. Schoonover-Shoffner, Kathy

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In this JCN we have the opportunity to consider injustice. As I prepared the articles for publication by Skip McDonald and Alice Brown-Collins (pp. 25-30) and Kathleen Stetz (pp. 31-36), I gained new and deeper insight about injustices in healthcare, nursing education, and nursing practice.

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To be honest, I didn't like what I saw. I wish I could tell you it was because I was outraged to dig deeper into the unfairness people of color, the poor, or people who are "different" experience in healthcare. But that wasn't what bothered me the most. As I examined the ideas presented by these authors, I was most uncomfortable with what injustice means for me as a white, middle-class, Christian nurse.


It isn't that I have actively acted unjustly. I am not aware of regularly treating patients or coworkers of color differently than whites. I have had numerous opportunities to be with the poor in my church and in my work as a staff nurse at the hospital. When I have encountered unfairness or violations of patients' rights, I have advocated for those who don't have a voice-at times at high personal cost. I regularly recognize how we unjustly handle patient or family situations at the hospital for our convenience as caregivers rather than for the patients. I work hard at creating an environment that is for patients and families, as well as for hospital staff.


What made me uncomfortable was recognizing just how much I am a product of the dominant white culture in America, in Christianity, and in nursing. I realized I have difficulty not thinking "whitely." I began to understand the need to rethink who I am, to examine ways of thinking and doing that are as natural to me as walking and breathing, and to rethink everything through the lens of justice given by God.


The Bible is perfectly clear that justice is critical to God, that we are to act justly and insure justice for all, and that the standard of justice-acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good-comes from God (see Scripture Speaks Regarding Justice, p. 26). Discovering how important justice is to God and how much he hates injustice means I can no longer be ignorant or naive. McDonald and Browns-Collins offer that "We must understand what it is like to walk in another person's shoes" (p. 26). Stetz clarifies this idea further saying nursing education needs to help students "recognize and dismantle white or dominant group privilege" (from Stetz, Table 1, pp. 34). This means I need to recognize my "white" thinking and my privileges as a white nurse, and dismantle anything that gives me unearned or inappropriate power over others.




This means I have to explore, confess, and be upfront about my personal biases. I need to reflect on my discomfort with people who are different from me and how I react to or try to downplay differences. I need to carefully examine incidents with colleagues and patients, exploring how much things are impacted by my "white" perspective. I need to question my "understanding" of the environment around me and situations that arise and honestly investigate how much injustices occur because I don't understand someone's cultural background or the meanings behind words and behavior.


What became most clear is that I need more "godly sorrow" to produce a readiness to see that justice is done (2 Corinthians 7:10-11). I need a heart that is more open and better prepared to examine problems of injustice and inequity. I need to become willing to talk about and push for changes in my own life and workplace. I need to ask God what he would have me do to impact change in my community and the healthcare system. I will need to be inconvenienced and stretched.


I hope you will read the special section Seeking Justice in Nursing, asking God to speak to you about his heart for justice and ways you might need to change or get involved. You may not like what you read, but remember Jesus' words, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32).