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The Nurse Role in Public Health Medicine Essay

Being a nurse is a huge responsibility as they have to care for the whole community. Nurses need to be highly experienced and proficient in order to provide exceptional medical services for people. They work closely with the community promoting healthy living and helping to prevent diseases. Nurses work at all levels of health care delivery and their exceptional role in providing quality services is constantly growing. The purpose of this research paper is to discuss the nurse role in public health and describe how important they are for modern health care system.

Job Responsibilities and Areas of Expertise

Public health nurse has to provide medical services to community members. They control the immunization process. Disease outbreaks and their prevention are of their primary concern as well. Teaching community about healthy lifestyle and proper eating habits is another important duty of nurses. Nurses use systematic processes to deliver care to individuals, families and community groups with a focus on promoting, preserving, protecting, and maintaining health. They specialize in different areas of medical services such as pre and post natal care, child’s development, caring about people with special needs, emotional wellbeing, etc. (American Nurses Association, n.d.).

In terms of primary prevention, the main task of nurses is to prevent diseases occurrence in the first place. It can be done by a means of providing immunization, nutrition counseling, prenatal classes, safety education, windshield survey of communities, and encouraging smoking cessation. At the secondary level of prevention, nurses have to be able to detect illness at an early stage and take measures to stop its further development. For this purpose, nurses use different tools to screen vision and hearing, measure blood pressure, take mammograms, and conduct diabetes screening. At the third level, nurses help their patients recover quicker and provide rehabilitation services, such as exercise rehabilitation (Lundy & Janes, 2009, p.24).
Nurses are responsible for giving their patients recommendations about healthy lifestyle and ways of improving overall health. They create a plan of care and manage further treatment and consultations. Nurses help patients not only in medical establishments but also in domestic surroundings. Their duties are to assess, coordinate, manage and support. Among the areas of community health nursing are school nursing, disaster management, correctional nursing, parish nursing, occupational nursing, visiting nurse association, end of life care, telehealth, and travel nursing.

With respect to nursing in primary health care, the World Health Organization (n.d.) identifies nurses as key players in this area. Community health nurses are well positioned for the primary health care delivery model due to their practice. Their practice is based on networks and relationships and, in many cases, they form those very quickly in their communities. Communities perceive a nurse as a resource person who has much trustworthiness and knows what the assets are in the community. In addition, nurses can successfully handle the issues that might arise in a specific community.

Nurse as a Primary Care Provider

Far more than just being doctor’s assistant, today nurses serve as primary care providers. They have advanced degrees, they are considered scientists and innovators, they are change agents in modern world health care. Nursing is an evolving and increasingly important part of health care system. There are 3,000,000 nurses in the USA compared to 870,000 physicians, and they are always highly valued for the amount and diversity of work that they do (Rosseter, n.d.). There are more and more responsibilities coming into nurses’ daily activities. There are even nurse navigators who help people deal with the complexity of health care system. Nurses have profound wisdom, knowledge and expertise to care for people at vulnerable times in their lives. Society has great expectations and demands for this profession. Nurses need to lead the reorganization of health care. Nurses really provide care in all fields of health care system. The time nurses spend with patients is one reason for the improved outcomes. Technology is another, as computer health record has made their work much easier. It allows professionals to have access to patient’s records and see what is going on with them in real time. Technology, new medications, and advanced interventions allow nurses to take care of patients at home.

Nurse as an Innovator

As nurses take on more responsibilities, they produce many innovative solutions. As a result, they are finding new ways to improve patient’s care. Nurses are innovators in terms of the ways they approach their job and bringing efficiency. It does not have to be the most important or cutting edge change; it may be a small change that improves the care for the patients, their work environment and the staff. They are constantly in search of improvements for providing their daily services. For example, it was a nurse’s idea to use a barcode scan system every time the patient gets medicine to check that he/she gets necessary medicine and no mistakes occur. Frequently, when people think of physician care or medical care, nursing as a subset of physician care comes to mind. In reality, physician’ knowledge and expertise overlaps with that of a nurse. Without doubt, they complement each other.

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Nurse as a Team Member

Today there is a growing understanding of the model that nurses are partners in health care. Health care has transformed from a hierarchical system into a horizontal flat system where nurses have become valued members of the team. One of the challenges of teamwork is the way it is paid for. Teams do not get payment as a system of health care delivery does not recognize teams as an entity; it only recognizes individual work. Individuals are paid for taking care, and it has always been difficult for nurses to define what they worth. Nobody can have all the knowledge necessary for delivering good health care. It does take multiple people possessing knowledge, skills and competencies to deliver good care. In some areas of work, nurses have a guiding role, while in others they are guided. In addition, they need to cooperate with a patient since the patient is the part of their team. Nurses at the bedside provide an extraordinary amount of information and are able to assess whether a particular treatment is working or not.

Nursing Shortage

The demand for care becomes even more urgent as the nation’s baby boomers turn 65. Nowadays, about 35,000,000 people are over 65 and, in a few decades, that number is going to double (Barr, 2014). It means that more people will need professional care. With the passage of health care reform, more people will receive health insurance coverage or be able to afford it. Therefore, it will increase a demand for nurses. On top of that, there are obesity problems, diabetes issues, and heart disease which require professional nursing help. However, there may be nursing shortage soon because many of those aging baby boomers are nurses. Many nurses prefer not to retire and stay in the field, and their number is quite high.

There are a million nurses over the age of 50. Therefore, in the near future, the industry will face two problems: the first one is that those nurses will be eventually retiring, and the second one is that there is going to be a great influx of people who will be in need of nursing health care. As a result, there will be huge nursing shortage next decade. Meanwhile, serious shortcoming of students is explained by the lack of teaching faculty. More nurses need to become nursing educators. The complexity of what nurse needs to know is increasing and the challenges that nurses face are becoming greater. Being a nurse practitioner and a teacher requires an advanced degree; working in a community autonomously also requires an advanced degree. Thus, caring for people in a complex US healthcare system requires as much education as possible. It is necessary to educate nurses to deliver care in the current system and in a transformed health care system. In addition to teaching patient care, colleges and universities have to prepare nurses for dealing with the business of health care.

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Healthcare is a business, and leadership development is essential for the future of nursing. Nevertheless, before they become leaders, too many nurses get frustrated with the bureaucracy that takes time and resources. If the nurse can spend only one fourth of her time delivering care and the rest of the time doing things that do not require her expertise, than it is just a waste of her precious time. It is important for management to think of the ways of removing barriers and improving efficiency so that nurses are able to spend their time on professional practice instead of inefficient tasks. Fundamental changes in a way health care is delivered are going to occur in terms of costs, quality, and access. These changes give nurses a great opportunity to take part in designing care, leading that care transformation. Many of regulatory barriers have to be removed and policy makers need to listen to registered nurses through American Nurse Association. What will change the healthcare system is the partnership with different players in the field, including physicians, pharmacists, social workers and other people coming together to share a common goal. One of the most important groups that is necessary to partner with is patients. Health care system in the country is being transformed and nurses definitely need to make their voice heard.

Nowadays, nurses are seen as leaders in patient care delivery. Their unique combination of various roles and responsibilities makes them a keystone of modern health care delivery system. Taking into account their special role, it is necessary to reject the stereotype of a nurse as an assistant of doctor. Apart from their direct responsibilities for caring for patients, nurses conduct health research, counsel college students, mentor new nurses, make medical discoveries, make important decisions about the way health care is delivered, improve health care systems, and contribute to health care knowledge. Nurses ensure community wellbeing and it is in the interests of society to promote nursing as a profession to fight a critical shortage of nurses. It is very important as fewer nurses means higher chances of shortened life expectancy, more risks of getting serious infections, and worse conditions for people who need continuous treatment.

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