Nurs 4010 Week 1: The Role of the Community and Public Health Nurse

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The Role of the Community and Public Health Nurse

This week, your Instructor assigned you a chapter in the course textbook that discussed the role of the public health nurse in a specific setting.Based on your assigned chapter and bearing in mind the primary prevention focus of the community/public health nurse, respond to the following:

  • What differentiates the role of the community and public health nurse from other health professionals?
  • What skills and knowledge are necessary for the type of decision making inherent in population-focused nursing practice?
  • How do these skills differ from those required in the institutional setting?

Support your response with references from the professional nursing literature.

Post your response by Day 3 of this week.

Respond by Day 7 to at least two of your colleagues’ postings in one or more of the following ways:

• Ask a probing question.
• Expand on the colleague’s posting.
• Offer polite disagreement or critique, supported with evidence.

In addition to, but not in place of, the above you may:

• Offer and support an opinion.
• Validate an idea with your own experience.
• Make a suggestion or comment which guides or facilitates the Discussion.

Nurs 4010 Week 1: The Role of the Community and Public Health Nurse

While most nurses care for one patient at a time, public health nurses care for entire populations. By working with whole communities, public health nurses are able to educate people about health issues, improve community health and safety and increase access to care.

Public health nurses believe a person’s health is affected by many factors, including genetic makeup, lifestyle and environment. Instead of waiting for patients to come to the hospital with an illness, they go into communities to try and help people improve their health and prevent disease.

For people who don’t have access to care, public health nurses may also provide direct health care services, including preventive care, screening services and health education.

Public health nurses also:

  • Monitor health trends and identify health risk factors unique to specific communities
  • Set local priorities for health-related interventions to provide the greatest benefit to the most people
  • Advocate with local, state and federal authorities to improve access to health services for underserved communities
  • Design and implement health education campaigns and disease prevention activities, such as immunizations and screenings
  • Tell people about locally available health care programs and services to improve access to care
  • Educate and provide direct health care services to vulnerable and at-risk populations

Health education is a primary focus of public health nurses. Drawing on their training as registered nurses, public health nurses give people reliable, useful information about how to protect their health.

In presentations at schools, community groups, senior centers and other local groups, public health nurses explain proper nutrition, demonstrate effective safety practices, promote early detection of common diseases, tell people how to care for disabled or ill family members and inform people about other important health issues. Their goal is to make health information easy to understand, so people can take greater control over their well being.

In low-income and rural communities, public health nurses also provide critical health care services. They immunize schoolchildren, provide pre-natal and well-baby care and teach the elderly how to stay safe and healthy at home. They also must be able to recognize and respond to potential health crises.

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