What Is Public Health Nursing?
April 29, 2014
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Many nursing specialties require caring for one patient at a time, but public health nursing involves caring for an entire population. Instead of treating sick people in hospitals and clinics, your work in this career will be proactive and preventive in nature. You will go out into the community to help protect and improve the health of residents. Additionally, you may offer critical direct care for those who don't have access to medical interventions, such as people in low-income, high-risk or rural areas.
What Are the Duties?
As a guardian of the health of a community, your job as a public health nurse will involve a variety of duties. You will monitor the trends and health risks of a population and set priorities for implementing strategies that provide the greatest benefit for the most people. Other duties will include identifying underserved populations and advocating with authorities to increase their access to medical care. You will also help prevent disease by administering immunizations, conducting screenings and providing health education. Aside from working with the public, you will have behind-the-scenes responsibilities such as managing budgets, planning activities and evaluating the effectiveness of certain programs.
What Is the Primary Focus?
According to ExploreHEALTHCareers, one of the focuses of community health nurses is education, but this duty can take different forms. In presentations at senior care centers, schools and other settings, you will teach proper nutrition and safety practices in addition to promoting early detection of common diseases. You will also show people how to take care of disabled or ill family members and teach seniors ways to stay healthy at home. The intent of your educational services is to make health information understandable, a goal that will enable the public to have more control over their welfare.
What Are the Working Conditions?
Your work setting choices may include community health centers and government agencies, along with nonprofit groups and other organizations that seek to improve public health. You may work alone or in collaboration with other members of a multidisciplinary team, often supervising health care personnel. The position may entail traveling around the area to meet with groups or to provide direct care.
Public health nursing is important to a community, and those who work in the field are dedicated individuals who do their best to promote the wellness of the people they serve. A critical part of your job will be to identify and respond to a potential health crisis, a responsibility that makes your role very valuable. If you enter this field, you will gain much satisfaction from knowing how your work fills a great community need.
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