The idea of health inequities is not novel, but efforts have been undertaken to rectify this imbalance. Because of the increasing diversity in the United States, it is more important than ever to identify health disparities and work toward eliminating them. It should come as no surprise that nurses are often at the front of initiatives to promote public health, often leading by example in their households and places of employment (Lakner et al., 2022, p. 560). Nurses are at the front of change when it comes to improving health equality. Better outcomes may be achieved with holistic therapy that also considers socioeconomic factors. One of the most efficient methods for nurses to reduce health disparities is by speaking out for their patients. This might involve lobbying for patients’ rights, securing enough funding and resources, providing interpreters and distress screens, and providing employees with cultural competency education and training. Social justice asserts that everyone should have the “right to good health,” or the liberty to pursue and maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, there are now unfair health disparities that are preventable and unnecessary. Disparities in health outcomes, healthcare access, and healthcare quality are all examples of health disparities.
Disparities in access to care and variations in financial status, racial composition, and language are pervasive in rural and outlying areas of the United States. It is not simply white individuals who live and work in rural America; many migrant agricultural laborers are from minority groups and have trouble communicating because of language barriers (Lakner et al., 2022, p. 560). In remote communities, nurses may play an important role as advocates for improved health. People living in rural areas have had trouble finding affordable primary care for decades. There is a greater prevalence of health problems and harmful habits in rural communities because of these shortages. Another factor that might put residents in rural regions at risk is the area’s increasing diversity (Lakner et al., 2022, p. 562). The health disparities these groups experience directly result from the shortages of medical professionals and culturally sensitive caretakers. Since nurses comprise the bulk of the healthcare workforce, we are in a prime position to influence how care is provided in these settings.
Nurses may play a significant role in light of the current shortage of primary care professionals, especially in rural areas. As healthcare evolves, it will become more important to allow nurses to use all of their training and experience in their daily work. Removing obstacles to practice is strongly recommended by the IOM (Shi & Stevens, 2021). This is essential in order to free nurse practitioners from limiting regulations. The state and federal levels have made great strides, but there is still a long way to go. The ability of nurse practitioners to function autonomously is still restricted in several jurisdictions. Independent practice by nursing personnel would help address gaps in underserved areas. Nurses need to be strong policy advocates.
The HRSA provides health care to rural areas via its Health Resources and Services Branch. Many initiatives are available to help rural communities, including those supported by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP). Health center grants, telemedicine, opioid response measures, academic research, and legislative advocacy are all part of the package. The Rural Action Plan is another crucial initiative to expand rural residents’ access to high-caliber medical services (Ortiz et al., 2018). The Rural Implementation Plan was developed by a panel convened by the US Department of Health and Human Services to address issues of healthcare accessibility, disease prevention, technology adoption, and system stability. Providers willing to work in underserved or rural areas might get cash incentives from HRSA.
Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA). “Defining Rural Population.” https://www.hrsa.gov/rural-health/about-us/definition/index.html
Lakner, C., Mahler, D. G., Negre, M., & Prydz, E. B. (2022). How much does reducing inequality matter for global poverty?. The Journal of Economic Inequality, 20(3), 559-585. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10888-021-09510-w
Ortiz, J., Hofler, R., Bushy, A., Lin, Y. L., Khanijahani, A., & Bitney, A. (2018, June). Impact of nurse practitioner practice regulations on rural population health outcomes. In Healthcare (Vol. 6, No. 2, p. 65). MDPI. https://www.mdpi.com/305296
Rural Healthy People 2020 volume 2: https://srhrc.tamhsc.edu/rhp2020/index.html
Shi, L., & Stevens, G. D. (2021). Vulnerable populations in the United States. John Wiley & Sons.