The World Health Organisation defines Health Promotion as “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health.” and when stated in those terms it seems obvious that a major factor in successful health promotion is having experts and medical practitioners engaging with their community.
Nurses are a key cornerstone to many of our medical services, vital in patient care and management with incredibly wide knowledge bases at their disposal. With that in mind, how do these core professionals contribute to community health promotion efforts?
Types of Nurses
Nurses can be as varied as doctors are in their specialization and naturally, that means different types of nurses will have different levels of engagement with the community. While an ER nurse provides an essential service to their community their work is restricted to within the confines of an emergency room or, depending on the situation, a hospital. These are the types of nurses that many think of when the profession is brought up.
But there is a wide array of other disciplines, for example, Mental Health Nurses (or Psychiatric Nurses) who are trained to work with patients experiencing psychological distress, episodes or mental illness, while some of these nurses work on a strictly clinical basis (attending to patients in a Psychiatric Hospital for instance) others roles are far more entwined with the community.
They may make house calls to patients who cannot complete daily care tasks without assistance. As such, they allow those patients the room to advocate for their own ability to express their own agency and autonomy in both large life decisions as well as in small daily tasks they are capable of. This can possibly mitigate the need for someone to be placed in in-patient care in certain circumstances.
Community Health Nurses
There are also specific Community Health Nurses, they do a number of jobs and while some do involve more clinical tasks like doing screenings for those at risk for certain diseases a lot of their work is in education and community outreach.
One service some offer is just assistance in understanding how health insurance works, how to get health insurance and all of the jargon that you need to sort through means. This in turn can mean those who wouldn’t be able to seek medical aid due to financial difficulty have some avenues opened to them.
Community Health Nurses work in all sorts of locations away from medical hubs, they can be found in schools, prisons, homeless shelters, community hubs and more. This variety means that they have the chance to interface with people who may not have any other access to medical help or even simply accurate and reliable information.
So, Why Nurses?
Nurses are a great combination of practical knowledge and professional bedside manner. While diagnosis and treatment are crucial to good health outcomes for patients, a lot of the work that needs to be done sits a little outside of that strictly scientific area.
Informing people about early warning signs or consulting them on how they want long-term assistance to work is a major aspect of ensuring the health of our populous. This daily care is just as important to making sure people heal, we all know that even the best stitches can become infected if not cleaned properly.
Nurses sit at this junction, both capable of performing medical data collection and interpretation as well as being trained in the more personal human side of things. This ability to work in both worlds makes them a linchpin in community health promotion.
How To Get Into Health Promotion
It’s clear that community health promotion is something critical if we want to look after each other, and after recent events globally public health’s flaws have been brought into stark view. So where we can it’s important we all assist, whether that’s supporting current initiatives; either in a volunteer role or financially or for some who want to dedicate themselves to these efforts more wholly it might be worth looking into the first step to becoming a registered nurse.
If you already are a nurse there are plenty of programs begging for your help and checking in with local organizations is a fantastic start. Even if your time and resources are limited, just being able to consult various people with medical training and experience in the field of medicine is massively helpful to many of these groups.
It can be easy to be overwhelmed when faced with all of the difficulties faced by humanity internationally, falling into those mental pitfalls is made so easy by how the internet gives us access to unprecedented amounts of information now. But sometimes the best work we can do is at home, just helping the people in our own community first, with the hope and knowledge that like-minded people across the globe are doing the same.