As part of their duties, nurses are responsible for promoting public health whenever possible. Traditionally, the role of these professionals has focused on looking after patients while, where applicable, advising on disease prevention and behavior change among individuals based on their health status. However, nursing practice has evolved to include more complex aspects of health promotion. Today, their training exposes them to multi-disciplinary experience and knowledge.
The concept of health promotion is broad. From the perspective of registered nurses, their role includes disease prevention and the promotion of public health. Basically, nurses are ambassadors of wellness. Nurses care for those who are well, just like they attend to those that are sick. In fact, caring for the healthy is more important because it minimizes the frequency at which people are admitted to the hospital. Therefore, it is a measure to reduce costs and address staffing shortages. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nurses can promote health by assisting people to gain control of their lifestyle to improve their health.
Below are specific ways through which nurses can promote health:
Planning and participating in community health education
Registered nurses sometimes abandon their regular care duties in the wards and participate in programs that educate people about their health. The nurses may organize sessions or accompany other groups from institutions or the government. Therefore, the programs could be formal or informal, comprising large groups or just a few individuals.
It is much easier for nurses to plan their activities where they can assess the community’s health needs and tailor their education accordingly. Sessions often include an oral presentation or a one-on-one engagement to address individual needs. Other sessions can consist of a small group of people when participants have a health check, including blood pressure, urinalysis, and blood sugar tests.
Professionals who have pursued the University of Indianapolis MSN-AGPCNP program are better placed to educate adults on their health needs. The course explores the care and treatment of adults with unique needs because the ability of their bodies to respond has reduced significantly. Whichever role you are assigned in promoting community health, you must always exercise high levels of professionalism, as is expected of every nurse.
Informing patients of their immunization schedules
Immunization programs may be mandatory or voluntary, depending on the disease and age group. In most cases, childhood immunizations are a must, and state laws dictate that every child be vaccinated. However, adults have a choice to select or reject immunizations. For instance, it is not a must to receive a pneumonia vaccine.
It is the responsibility of nurses to identify the recommended immunizations for the age group for which they are providing care. For instance, the nurse must know the immunization schedule by CDC when dealing with pediatric patients. They should also identify mandatory vaccines recommended by CDC if they are attending to adult patients. Before administering vaccines, responsible nurses must inquire about and establish the patient’s age. While some vaccines are mandatory, they may not be appropriate for elderly patients or those with a history of respiratory diseases.
There are misconceptions and myths around immunizations that influence the uptake of vaccines by the public. If poorly managed, this lack of knowledge and false tales can negatively affect public and global health. One of the common misconceptions about vaccines is that they can lead to autism. Unfortunately, many people are tempted to believe this fallacy, despite the lack of scientific evidence to back the claim. Nurses have a role in disseminating accurate information to patients and the community so that people can take immunizations to prevent the spread of diseases. They must fight these misconceptions and push toward an informed society.
Identifying risk factors for diseases and illnesses
A risk factor in the health perspective can be defined as an intrinsic or extrinsic force with the potential to cause an illness, disorder, disease, or infection. For example, hypertension is an intrinsic risk factor that makes the patient susceptible to other ailments. In comparison, contaminated food is an extrinsic factor that can cause an individual to suffer from foodborne infections.
Risk factors exist in various forms. You can eliminate or reduce some, but others cannot be changed. Factors you cannot change include gender, ethnicity, age, and genetics, while risks associated with consumption patterns and poor diet can easily be eliminated. When patients are admitted, nurses collect their data, including their risk factors, to effectively provide care throughout their course.
Providing follow-up in a health promotion program
After conducting a nursing promotion program, nurses must establish whether the sessions bear fruit. Evaluation is the final teaching process that should be done and documented. For instance, a registered nurse managing a patient’s weight loss schedule must assess the progress. If a patient has cancer and needs to abandon smoking, the nurse must follow up and establish whether the individual is following instructions. Regarding new mothers, the nurse must confirm that the newborn has been enrolled for vaccinations to enhance disease prevention.
In some instances, you may realize that the goals of a particular program have not been met. It means clients were not receptive to the educational activity. In this case, you must reassess your teaching methods and identify the barriers to learning that you did not address. You can then design and implement a new teaching plan. Perform another follow-up until you meet the expected outcome according to the health promotion.
Assisting clients to maintain an optimum health level
An optimum level simply means the best possible. It does not imply that nurses must achieve the highest possible level of health for patients. Therefore, these caregivers help clients maintain a good health level in relation to their current state of health. Some patients suffer limitations caused by acute illnesses or disorders, and the role of nurses is to reduce the effects as much as possible so that the patient has a good quality of life.
For instance, nurses may be deployed to attend to a patient who has suffered a cerebrovascular accident and subsequent paralysis to help minimize the neurological risk. While such a patient may not live a normal life to undertake regular duties or learn, the nursing intervention can lead to at least recognizing and appreciating their environment. While facilitating clients to reach an optimum level of health, nurses acknowledge that some patients may never achieve the desired result.