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Many people don’t notice it or simply just forget about the inequality and discrimination that is currently still an issue in America. But for those who are victims of it suffer the unfair consequences. Nurses are one of the many victims who suffer from discrimination in their workplace. Nurses suffer more discrimination than any other healthcare worker in the US.
According to their certain gender, race or religion, they are discriminated. There are patients who will refuse treatment from a nurse simply because of their race. This kind of treatment towards the nurses can be hurtful and confusing since they are only trying to help. This discrimination continues to also be shown by their administration. Many nurses have confessed that they have suspected being overlooked for a promotion because of their race (O’Shanassy). This issue is something that is real and is affecting many working Americans today. It needs to be brought to attention because healthcare is something everyone needs and depends on and it should be everyone’s right to feel welcomed at work. It’s unfortunate that people are racist and sexist towards someone who wants to work a job where they can help others. The three major theoretical perspectives: symbolic interactionism, structural functionalism, and the conflict theory can be seen in this social stratification issue. Structural functionalism is the relationship between the parts of society or how aspects of society are functional. This theory is a macro level theory that focuses on seeing society as a complex system where certain parts work together to create stability.
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Major theorists of this theory include Herbert Spencer and Robert Merton. This can be seen in the nursing workforce because nurses are seen as a necessity in the medical field. The hospital needs nurses in order to function and operate. Going further along with structural functionalism, nurses, specifically female nurses give structure and order to the hospital. It is considered normal to see a female nurse come in and take a patient’s blood pressure rather than a male nurse. For example, many men don’t consider nursing as a career because they were taught that it was only for women. It has become a norm in the social structure. Questions a functionalist would ask may include: How do nurses contribute to society? How would equality in the healthcare system affect society’s structure? What would the hospital look like without nurses? Would diversity in the nursing system be functional or dysfunctional? Karl Marx is the father of the social conflict theory. His theory is a macro level theory that views society as an arena full of inequality and competition for resources and power. Conflict theorists believe all these things generate social conflicts along with social change.
From a social conflict perspective, the nursing discrimination issue can definitely be supported. Nurses are definitely being treated unequally by both their patients and coworkers. This supports the idea the society is full of inequality. Although the majority of the racism and sexism comes from the patients, the administration and coworkers are big on these issues too. If the administration is racist and wants to control the race and sex of the staff members than this supports the idea that society is full of competition for power. If these social conflicts are addressed and brought to light, then they will cause social change in support of Marx’s theory. Social conflict theorists may ask questions such as why is it good that people notice this problem in the nursing community? How can this issue produce change? Why is it important for the discriminated to rise up against the comfortable? George Herbert Mead is the father of the symbolic interactionist perspective. He believes people behave a certain way because of what they believe and not always because of what is true. Through this idea, his theory supports that society is constructed entirely through human interpretation. His theory is a micro level theory and focuses on the types of relationships between individuals within a society. This theory can be seen through the discrimination in the nursing workplace because it further proves his theory that people act a certain way because of what they believe.
Certain people will be racist and sexists towards nurses because they think their race or even their gender is better or more suitable to them. This shows how people’s beliefs control society. People simply believe that women are more suitable to be nurses than men even though it isn’t necessarily true. All these things affect the types of relationships between individuals within a society. Questions that symbolic interactionists may ask include: How can people’s beliefs on what type of people should work as nurses affect people who may not fit into that category but are interested in the job? How can people’s beliefs shape their lives? Why do hardly any men work as a nurse in the US when the US is a free country? Overall, this social issue can be best supported by the symbolic interactionist perspective. Symbolic interactionism supports the idea that society is controlled and created through people’s behaviors and beliefs. This theory is specifically very evident and true in this circumstance. Race and gender discrimination in the nursing community is something that is caused by people with certain closed-minded beliefs. If people responded differently in this situation than this would never have been a concern amongst the nursing community.
The social conflict theory doesn’t support this issue as much as the symbolic interactionism theory because it views society as an arena full of inequality and constant competition for power and resources. Although it supports the inequality in this issue, this nurse discrimination isn’t much of a competition for power or resources. In addition, the structural functionalist theory supports the idea that society is a complex system where certain parts work together to create stability. Unfortunately, in this issues case, there isn’t much support from this theories perspective. Nurses are definitely a big part of the social complex system, but this theory does not address the issue in the topic as much as symbolic interactionism does.
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