Social Justice as Advocacy: Where Are The Nurses?

by Nursemanifest blogger Wendy Marks

As the cost of providing healthcare skyrockets, some institutions and countries are Marks1suffering severe nursing shortages. An article in the NY Times (Hakimfeb, 2/8/15) describes the private sale of non-nurses to care for hospitalized patients in Greece.

The hospital administration and nursing staff, stressed from the healthcare systems austerity budget and the barebones operations, are helpless in preventing or stopping this illegal activity. These non-nurses are unlicensed and/or uneducated, but needing the work they are willing to take the risk and challenge.

So, where are the nurses who have been properly educated and licensed?  They have been let go, cut from the budget, forced to retire or seek different employment. Why should we care about what is happening in Greece?

According to the National League for Nursing “nursing care involves social justice: who should receive its benefits, how much they should receive, and who should take up the burden of providing and paying for it.” (NLN, 2015).

What if we were nurses in a country where patients or the healthcare system could not afford to pay for our services? What would we do?  Would we lobby for change or would we watch powerlessly as our economic and healthcare system failed?

What if only the elite could afford care by a licensed and well-educated nurse while others had the barebones minimum care by anyone who could help?

This is a civil and human rights issue. As Maya Angelou said, “… equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it.”

We live in interesting and challenging times. The power of education can be used to help protect and advocate for safe, professional nursing care that has been scientifically proven to prevent harm and save lives.

One nurse led organization that provides humanitarian nursing care around the globe has a mission to address this concern – Nurses without Borders.

Today, I am grateful for the privilege of my education, licensure and healthcare system and send my support to nurses around the globe as they fight for their rights and advocate for social justice.


Hakimfeb, D. (2015). Greek Austerity Spawns Fakery: Playing Nurse. Retrieved from

National League for Nursing (2015). What is Advocacy? Nursing is Social Justice Advocacy. Retrieved from

Nurse without Borders (2015). Retrieved from


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