Many people do not know that nurses have the power to impact the communities they serve positively. Also, some nurses often wonder what they can do to influence health in the communities they serve. This often stems from nurses thinking about what they can do as individuals, not realizing that there are so many nurses who think the same. In this article, we will look at how nurses are already impacting the communities they serve positively and how nurses can continue to do so.
Community health nurses are supposed to be educators and in communities that have seen positive changes in their health, nurses have often been at the heart of it all. Nurses provide education on a myriad of issues including healthy eating, exercise, hygiene and cleanliness, and the general care of our well-being.
Nurses also play a vital role in educating their communities about reproductive health and the complications that can arise if people do not pay close attention to everything concerning their reproductive health. Topics of discussion include contraceptives, family planning, and pregnancies. Nurses also educate their communities on how best to take care of young children and infants to reduce infant mortality rates.
By doing all of the above, nurses play a significant role in helping avoid disease and death in the communities they serve.
Nurses who work in collaboration with the communities they serve often have close relationships with their patients. This gives them the ability and opportunity to monitor their patients as well as the larger community.
This level of intimate monitoring means that patients at risk of serious illnesses or those suffering from chronic illnesses and conditions have someone to intervene should things start taking a turn for the worse. These interventions and preventive measures go a long way in ensuring that the community has a better quality of life and that individual patients do not have to suffer through painful and often debilitating effects of chronic illnesses and conditions that have gone unattended for too long.
Community health nurses also help prevent serious injuries in their older patients. This is especially true in communities that have larger populations of senior citizens who need to be monitored for risks such as falls.
By Helping Shape Policies
Nurses can help shape policies that directly impact the communities they serve. There are several ways they can do this, such as helping bring awareness to the health issues impacting their communities. Nurses can also help communities understand the importance of healthcare interventions such as vaccinations to expose the lack of an understanding of these innovations in their communities. As this article from Marymount University shows, Nurses’ influence on policy also extends into the boardrooms they sit in. Nurse leaders who understand the healthcare challenges in their communities are always in a better position to engage with policy makers who can make a difference in their patient’s lives and communities.
Lastly, nurses can work directly with nursing organizations to effect policy changes from the inside. This turns nurses from bystanders to active participants in clamoring for better policies for their patients and communities.
Bringing Healthcare Closer
One of the biggest hindrances to quality healthcare access is distance. This is especially true in underserved communities that have to travel long distances to get the care they need. Nurses who are qualified to start their own practices, such as family nurse practitioners, help bring healthcare closer to these communities by opening practices within them.
This eliminates the distances that some of the members of these communities have to travel to get some medical attention. In addition, it also reduces mortality rates in these communities and medical intervention is always a few houses away. Patients can get the primary care they need before any issues they have escalate and become fatal. By offering primary care and first aid services, the nurses serving these communities provide timely interventions that save lots of lives.
Helping Motivate the Next Generation of Nurses
To ensure that the communities they serve continue getting the primary care services they need in the future, there needs to be a new crop of nurses serving these communities every generation. Nurses who work directly with communities can provide the inspiration someone may need to become a nurse or doctor and serve their community.
Nurses can do this by educating young people interested in the field on what it entails as well as providing mentorship opportunities for members of the community who would like to graduate nursing school and then come back to serve their communities.
Community health nurses are often tasked with doing in-depth research within the communities they serve. Their research will often cover a narrow range of the issues these communities face or are struggling with. Once the research is done and the results compiled, the research becomes one of the tools that can be used to help their communities in various ways.
The most common type of research done by community health nurses is into the reasons for certain infections and diseases within these communities. Once the research is done, the relevant bodies can use the findings to put interventions in place to help solve these health issues. This can be through education, supplying preventive medication, isolating vulnerable and contagious groups, dealing with the root cause of non-obvious diseases, and so much more.
Offering Emotional Support
Nurses, especially those who are close to their patients and the communities they serve, understand how devastating it can be for their patients to fall sick or be admitted to hospital. This is especially true for smaller communities where everyone knows everyone else.
Nurses can help provide the emotional support anyone needs when something like this happens in a community. They can also help provide answers as well as some level of explanation to help community members process what has happened. Small gestures can make a big impact in the lives of patients’ families and their communities as a whole.
Nurses do a lot for our communities – some of which many of us do not realize. Having nurses embedded without our communities makes a huge difference in the community’s physical and mental wellbeing, helps ensure our communities benefit from favorable policy changes, and that we can all access healthcare when we need it.