Discrimination in Nursing – What is it? What can nurses do?

Discrimination in Nursing – What is it? What can nurses do? Essay Sample Paper

Discrimination in Nursing – What is it? What can nurses do? Essay Sample Paper


Discrimination is experienced in several sectors in the U.S. and healthcare is no exception. Discrimination may be defined as unfairly treating individuals or a group of people differently from others. It happens in nursing in various ways, for instance, patients may reject nurses of color and request white nurses. Some organizations fail to hire Back professionals due to discrimination (reference). Although efforts have been put in place at the national level to eliminate discrimination associated with race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status, the problem persists and further efforts are needed. All nurses must understand the potential impact of discrimination in healthcare as well as possible solutions to the problem (reference). The purpose of this paper is to provide an in-depth discussion of discrimination in nursing including impact and possible solutions.

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Different Contexts of Discrimination in Nursing

Discrimination can happen in a different context in nursing care, such as between nurses and patients and among nurses themselves. Discrimination happens among nursing peers. Nurses often experience acts of discrimination from fellow nurses who have prejudiced or ignorant attitudes and beliefs about one or several of their personal characteristics (reference). Discrimination can culminate into dangerous assumptions about other people based on age, race, or gender. Discrimination among nurses may be expressed throughDiscrimination in Nursing essay microaggressions or racial slurs. Microaggressions involve actions and comments that reflect a bias against certain types of people or groups of people (reference). Discrimination among nurses may be based on particular characteristics such as age, race, gender, religion, political affiliation, and others.

Discrimination may also occur between nurses and patients. Nurses have been reported holding stereotypes about patients that can in turn affect the quality-of-care delivery. On the other hand, patients may hold prejudiced perceptions about nurses causing them to mistreat those attending to them (reference). Therefore, both patients and nurses should be responsible to ensure they avoid discrimination against others.

Types of Discrimination in Nursing

The common types of discrimination in healthcare include racism, ageism, gender discrimination, and LGBTQIA discrimination. According to (reference), discrimination and resulting inequities in health outcomes are less related to income but to demographics, specifically race and ethnicity. Racism has a profound effect on nursing care and has persisted for a long time. It happens both at the individual and systematic levels. At the systematic level, many policies in healthcare settings put people of color at a greater disadvantage (reference).  Rules and regulations of doing business in many organizations promote inequalities between racial groups and give privileges to some people.

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Ageism in nursing is another source of discrimination in nursing. A 2013 national survey conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration indicated that nearly half of nurses are aged 50 years and above. These nurses face discrimination based on their age, despite them making a critical healthcare workforce (reference). False assumptions about their stamina and cognitive ability have caused many people to undermine the contribution of these older nurses. These nurses are often unwillingly pushed to an early retirement due to age discrimination. Gender discrimination is another problem in nursing. Gender bias and other stereotypes include the notion that men do not possess the nurturing ability has distorted the perception of who can be a nurse (reference). Men who enter nursing professions are often misunderstood since nursing is perceived as a woman’s job.

Impact of Discrimination in Nursing

All the types of discrimination mentioned above have detrimental effects on nursing care and patient outcomes. In terms of racism, healthcare disparities between whites and people of color reflect the profound impact of systemic racism in healthcare (reference). For instance, discrimination contributes to the higher rates of child mortality among Black communities than White communities. Historically, Black children have suffered inequitable medical care and lack of access to healthcare facilities. Besides, the influence of perceived discrimination on health can be devastating (reference). Policies regarding access to health care, and health care funding are the reasons for health disparities. Additionally, systematic racism has led to the dearth of people of color in nursing leadership roles. Nursing leadership positions held by people of color are as follows; only 9 percent of healthcare CEO positions, 11 percent of executive healthcare positions, and 19 percent of first-level and midlevel healthcare management positions.

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Ageism has serious consequences on nurses affecting their financial security, career growth, as well self-esteem. Age discrimination in nursing result in job denial to qualified individuals and may even lead to the early retirement of nurses (reference). Age discrimination also has a bad influence on the quality of care since nurses’ self-esteem is reduced. When people believe they are experiencing discrimination based on personal characteristics, they may develop poorer physical and psychological health (reference). The association between perceived discrimination, racism, and health, including mental health, chronic health conditions, and personality development, has been a focus for a greater understanding of health disparities among ethnic groups.

Solutions to Addressing Discrimination in Nursing

Nurse leaders must set appropriate measures to tackle discrimination in nursing. They should initiate a conversation with their staff about different types of discrimination and how to prevent them (reference). Nurses should reflect on the experiences of nurses and patients who experience discrimination so that they can understand the impact it has on people. (reference) states that intentional or blatant discrimination must not be tolerated and must be immediately addressed. Nurses need to engage in a period of self-reflection about their personal and professional values regarding mutual respect, civility, and mutual respect.

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Nurses should come out and support the nursing environment to include or promote civility and human rights for healthcare workers, patients, and others. Nurses must encourage all healthcare agencies to adopt and aggressively maintain policies, procedures, and practices that embrace inclusiveness, and promote civility and mutual respect in healthcare (reference). Facilities should contain methods for reporting violations, and require interventions to avoid recurrence. Besides healthcare policy, education is a very powerful tool to utilize. Both patients and nurses should receive education about discrimination and the consequences associated with it (reference). Educational activities together with strict policy is a sufficient recipe for reducing discrimination in nursing to a bearable level.

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Discrimination may be defined as unfairly treating individuals or a group of people differently from others.  Discrimination can culminate into dangerous assumptions about other people based on age, race, or gender. Some of the types of discrimination in nursing include racism, ageism, and gender. Nursing education and training should consider discrimination as an area of education.


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