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Strengthening Nursing Education to Address Social Determinants of Health: Systems Leadership


As a nation, we are now acknowledging, discussing, and addressing the root causes of inequity found in the social and structural determinants of health. Addressing social, economic, and environmental conditions that impact health is not new to nursing education, but a broader perspective that focuses on (1) systems and structures, (2) policy and politics, (3) historical drivers of inequity, (4) climate change, and (5) structural racism as a root cause of health inequities is new. With this recognition, nursing education must rapidly transform. This transformation will require courageous leadership to change culture, move beyond resistance, and update the curriculum. Cultivating critical consciousness and building structural competency are the new and necessary developmental and curricular underpinnings. In addition, there must be an intensification of the focus on the health and well-being of nurses leading in these new roles to advance health equity. Hope, healing, and finding one’s truth are now essential aspects of health and well-being for nurses leading the transformation of nursing education and healthcare delivery.


Future of Nursing 2020–2030: Recommendation 3

By 2021, nursing education programs, employers, nursing leaders, licensing boards, and nursing organizations should initiate the implementation of structures, systems, and evidence-based interventions to promote nurses’ health and well-being, especially as they take on new roles to advance health equity.

Future of Nursing 2020–2030: Recommendation 7

Nursing education programs, including continuing education and accreditors and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, should ensure that nurses are prepared to address social determinants of health and achieve health equity.

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Correspondence to Beverly Malone .

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Malone, B., Davis, S. (2023). Strengthening Nursing Education to Address Social Determinants of Health: Systems Leadership. In: Hassmiller, S., Darcy Mahoney, A., Beard, K. (eds) The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Global Applications to Advance Health Equity. Springer, Cham.

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