Public health nursing as a career is concerned with the general well-being of populations. The general role of a public health nurse is the promotion of the well-being of persons as far as health is concerned by use of the knowledge of nursing, social sciences, as well as public health sciences.
Due to the broadness of this role, public health nurses are expected to promote health in various categories which defines the individual roles of a public health nurse. Although the overall objective of the public health nursing profession is the promotion of the public health, the approaches employed by a public health nurse who works in a school environment differs form the roles of a public health nurse who works in a parish or in a health facility. The paper will examine the roles of public health nursing in schools and in the community.
The first role of a public health nurse in a school is to promote the overall health of the school population (Lancaster, 2008, pp 1043). A public health nurse who works in a school environment helps in the overall promotion of health by helping in health policy formulation at the school level.
This way, public health nurses in school environments as well as in other working environments provide vital inputs to all interdisciplinary programs tasked with the roles of evaluation, monitoring and anticipation of various health problems in order to formulate formidable responses to health challenges. The nurses are also expected to evaluate the environmental health challenges that may affect the area of operation.
Public health nurses in schools are also expected to promote children’s health through the observance of children’s behavior and further advice on the best approaches that can improve their health. Some of the practices that the public health nurses that work in schools are expected to accomplish includes the coordination of immunization programs both at school level and to coordinate with local communities to ensure that the children who are of the school going age are immunized.
School based public health nurses are usually employed by school districts or by other relevant school management board. However, the use of school district as the principal employing unit is higher than it is done by other employers. School-based nurses can also be staffed through the family nurse practitioner program. The main mission of all organizations that hires school based community health nurses is to improve the overall health positions of the school going children (Lundy & Janes, 2009, pp 76).
Another category of community health nurse is the community oriented nurse and consultant. Community-oriented nurse and consultant have the role of a change agent. They are also expected to offer their advice to various stakeholders to ensure that the community is running in a way that is agreeable to the goals of community health nursing (Lancaster, 2008, pg 1017).
It is the role of a public health nurse in the community to promote the application of health sciences as well as the knowledge of social sciences through relevant interventions (Lancaster, 2008, pg 1012). They also integrate their community of practice into programs that would promote their understanding of health issues especially by the aid of family experiences. As change agents, they champion the desired change at their community of practice hence promoting the overall well-being of the society.
The organization that registers community health nurses is the American Public Health Association where aspiring members are expected to complete the relevant courses, pass the entry exams and pay the required subscription amount for membership. Once a person joins, he/she is expected to adhere to the codes of professional conduct of the organization and remain professional while offering services.
Currently, the organization has over 50,000 health professions. It also boasts as the oldest organization of health professionals. The vision of this organization is to have “A Healthy Global Society” while its mission is to “Improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status” (American Public Health Association, 2011 para 3 and 4).
In conclusion, it is evident that public health nurses play a vital role in the promotion of overall health of the populations. Although the overall objective of public health nurses is to improve the overall health of the populations, each category of health nurses has its own area of interest which makes the approaches employed by each of the approaches different. The subdivision of public health nursing is vital in that it helps in the overall performance of the public health nurses.
American Public Health Association. (2011). American Public Health Association : Overview. Retrieved on June 08, 2011 from http://www.apha.org/about/gov/execboard/executiveboardvisionmission.htm
Lancaster, S., M. (2008). Community and Public Health Nursing. 7th Ed. St. Louis: Mosby
Lundy, K., S. & Janes S. (2009). Community health nursing: caring for the public’s health. New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning.