Community activism is defined as actions through which organizations, groups and individual work together to promote economic, social, cultural policies and practice changes. Basically, the key goal of community activism is to endorse actions that decrease health disparities, improve living conditions and enhance community environments. Nowadays, advanced nurse practitioners engage in cooperative and nonstop actions to remove barriers (e.g., social, political, economic barriers, etc.) and change underlying structures aimed to improve the lives of patients subjected to unequal and discriminatory conditions (e.g., minorities groups, LGBTQs, etc.) (Maryland & Gonzalez, 2012).
The key concepts associated with community activism include social justice, praxis, empowerment, critical reflection and consciousness raising. Consciousness raising is a key concept in which is involves the presentation of pertinent information in order to engage with others in critical reflection. Critical reflection is a key concept through which community activists activate possible collective actions and transformations. On the other hand, praxis is a decisive reflective action derived of individual and collective consciousness and theories to create commitment in order to build a justice society (Murphy, 2018).
In addition, empowerment is another key concept that entails processes and results of the implemented transformational actions through which people, communities and organizations increase their control and mastery within political, social and economic frameworks in order to enhance a better quality of life. On the other hand, social justice is a fundamental concept which involves philosophical, public health and political elements embedded in the epitome of human rights and social fairness and impartiality (Murphy, 2018).
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Recent data estimates that approximately 38 millions of people are smokers in the United States. Basically, Big Tobacco targets communities such as lower-income ones and creates products which include more addictive substances. These are the key reasons why the prevalence of smokers is higher, particularly among individuals with lower incomes. Therefore, it is crucial that nurses engage in community activism to halt or decrease the negative health impact from Big Tobacco. Some of the actions nurses can implement include the promotion of smoking cessation, education about the negative effects of smoking, increase their understanding of the tobacco industry, and increase awareness about the relationship between smoking and chronic medical conditions such as COPD, cancer, aortic aneurisms, etc. (Savell, Gilmore & Fooks, 2014).
In addition, nurses can alert patients to watch out for deceptions and lies used by these companies to prevent them from quitting. Moreover, nurses must alert smokers the multiple strategies these companies implement to increase their addiction, for instance; several studies have disclosed that nowadays the tobacco industries are delivering products with higher levels of nicotine in other to make smokers more difficult to quit (Savell et al, 2014)
In summary, nursing advocacy is essential to provide actual nursing care and represent a key role that illustrates the competent power of nursing. The engagement of nurses in community activism is crucial and patient advocacy is an extremely important role which has been included in the moral codes of nursing organizations. Undoubtedly, the need for justice is a basic human right and nurses are regarded as the health care professionals that most interact with patients and their difficulties. Therefore, nurses can make available justice for the patients better than any other health care professional (Davoodvand, Abbazzadeh & Ahmadi, 2016).
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Community activism can be described as a collaborative and sustained action to bring social transformation in a community by changing structures or removing barriers that impede people’s wellbeing. It entails identifying specific policies and practices that may be adversely impacting people’s lives and developing interventions that can improve their living conditions, community environment, and overall health (Mason, Leavitt, & Chaffee, 2017). To attain this goal, community activists work with multiple stakeholders to address underlying structures and policies that may be contributing to unequal, oppressive, or unjust conditions. Advanced Practice Nurses may play a critical role in community advocacy through involvement in community assessment and legislative advocacy (Mason et al., 2017). In the Big Tobacco problem, APN has a role in helping the victims, mobilize people against the companies and petition the government against the companies, and conduct awareness programs in the community.
Community activism involves six major concepts: social justice, community, empowerment, conscious rising, praxis, and critical reflection. First, social justice is a philosophical concept that emphasizes equitable allocation of resources and opportunities to guarantee an active and satisfying life. Hence, it advocates for equal access to resources and opportunities and equal treatment under the law (Mason et al., 2017). However, in different societies, inequalities continue to persist due to poor government policies that continue to privilege the few over the majority. Subsequently, community activism seeks to reverse these policies while pushing for more equitable ones. For instance, the nurses have vehemently opposed Trump’s proposals to the Affordable Care Act since they believe it will deny many people health insurance and access to quality healthcare.
APN should facilitate the formation of community partnerships, which are the basis for conducting awareness mobilization, treatment programs, and legislative programs (Mason et al., 2017). APNs can also organize wellness education programs that educate people about the health dangers of tobacco, and how tobacco companies are conspiring to frustrate anybody who questions their actions. They may also be involved in the treatment of the tobacco addicts (Carter, & Jones, 2017). They have exceptional clinical and leadership skills that may help them to create population-based interventions such as tobacco cessation programs. They may also organize the community to submit petitions to their representatives and later to Congress to ensure that strict action is taken against the community (Grant et al., 2017). Since the problem is national, critical reflection on the issue may play a huge role in addressing the issue conclusively.
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