Before finding out what a public health nurse does, what a public health nurse is, should be established. “A public health nurse integrates community involvement and knowledge about an entire population or community with personal, clinical understandings of the health and illness experiences of individuals and families within that population.” This is the official definition of a public health nurse, according to American Public Health Association. In layman’s terms this simply means, that a public health nurse works within a community, and they apply their nursing training to both help prevent diseases, of all varieties, and to nourish health within the community.
What do public health nurses do?
The most common interaction people will have with a public health nurse, is when receiving vaccinations. Also, people might encounter these nurses while receiving a screening. Most often, these nurses work at the local health department. While giving vaccinations and screenings can seem insignificant, in reality these procedures are preventative services that make the community healthier. In addition while performing preventative services, public health nurses collect data from patients that is valuable for long term community health.
Is administering vaccinations and screenings all public health nurses do?
Vaccinations and screenings are a big part of a public health nurses job, however, they are responsible for so much more. Their main focus is preventing infectious diseases. Diseases that have been eradicated can easily return without public health efforts to keep them under control. In addition to communities, public health nurses can also be assigned to specific people groups. For example, a nurse may be given the task of caring for refugees. This can be challenging as most often there is language and cultural barriers to overcome.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
As previously mentioned, an immense amount of a public health nurses duties involve disease prevention. Prevention, most often, starts with relationships. Nurses build relationships with people within the community they are serving. After a relationship has been established, patients are more likely to seek help when facing a medical problem. When people are more willing to come in for help, many diseases are prevented from getting out of hand. Public health nurses are a huge part of keeping diseases under control.
The nursing profession is a very selfless profession. However, public health nurses go above and beyond their calling. They administer kindness and preventative health care to communities in desperate need. Vaccinations, screenings, and building relationship with members of the communities they serve, are all important aspects of their job. A public health nurse’s job is immensely important to the overall health of the Nation, however, they are one of the most under-appreciated professions in America.