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The Nurse’s Role in Community Health

In the past, caregivers journeyed on horseback to the homes of their neighbors to provide medical services. These caregivers were crucial to reducing the mortality rates in their communities. After the civil war, hospitals were built. This began the implementation of organized healthcare. Today, nurses practice in a variety of settings and community health is again re-emerging as an integral part of providing care to everyone.

What Is Community Health Nursing?

Community health nursing is a discipline that incorporates evidenced-based research along with advances in science and new approaches for improving the health of the public. The practice takes into consideration the cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds of the people in the community to ensure appropriate interaction and sensitivity when working with them.

A community is a group of people in a specific location, which includes places where people live, work and go to school. Most people belong to multiple types of communities. Community health nursing is commonly practiced in geographic locations like cities and rural areas.

What Is the Goal of Community Health Nursing?

The goal of community health nursing is to promote, protect and preserve the health of the public. Community health nursing involves these basic concepts:

  • Promote healthy lifestyle
  • Prevent disease and health problems
  • Provide direct care
  • Educate community about managing chronic conditions and making healthy choices
  • Evaluate a community’s delivery of patient care and wellness projects
  • Institute health and wellness programs
  • Conduct research to improve healthcare

What Is the Role of a Community Health Nurse?

The primary role of community health nurses is to provide treatment to patients. Additionally, community health nurses offer education to community members about maintaining their health so that they can decrease the occurrence of diseases and deaths. They plan educational assemblies, hand -out fliers, conduct health screenings, dispense medications and administer immunizations.

Nurses also may distribute health-related items like condoms and pregnancy tests. Examples of some health issues that community health nurses try to control or eliminate are:

  • Infectious and sexually transmitted diseases
  • Obesity
  • Poor nutrition
  • Substance abuse
  • Smoking
  • Teen pregnancy

Where Do Community Health Nurses Work?

Community health nurses work in hospitals, community centers, clinics, schools and government health agencies. Community health nurses are important to regions where healthcare is not easily accessible, so they can travel to remote places and isolated areas of a city.

How Do You Become a Community Health Nurse?

To become a community health nurse you must first work as a registered nurse. If you only have an associate degree you might want to consider completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program. Many schools like Northeastern State University (NSU) offer RN to BSN programs.

NSU has an online RN to BSN program that includes the course Community Health Nursing. This course examines the theory and research used in nursing and the public health practice, which promotes and preserves the health of communities. Students are given the opportunity to apply their current knowledge and what they learn in the course. They are paired with a community and other healthcare professionals to experience community health nursing.

Nursing care should be available to every American. Throughout the country, there are entire communities of people prone to chronic illnesses, infectious diseases and economic hardships. Community health nurses have the ability to improve the welfare of individuals and their communities. They are at the forefront of bringing quality patient care to the most vulnerable and underserved members of society.

Learn more about Northeastern State University’s online RN to BSN program.


Sources:

EveryNurse.org: Becoming a Community Health Nurse

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Benefits of Community Health

Government of the Northwest Territories: Community Health Nurses

ScienceDirect: What Is “Community Health”? Examining the Meaning of an Evolving Field in Public Health

Houston Chronicle: What Are the Primary Roles of the Community Nurse?

National Women’s History Museum: The Evolution of Nursing


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