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Understanding Community Health


Community health is a field that addresses the healthcare needs of a community at the population level. Healthcare professionals work to promote health initiatives, improve health in the community, and raise awareness of important health issues. Nurses have key roles in this field such as providing healthcare, conducting research, educating the public, and serving in other areas of responsibility and leadership.

To become better qualified for community health positions, nurses should have leadership and mentoring skills and be skilled at communicating health concepts. RN to BSN degree programs can help Registered Nurses obtain their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and learn more about the community health field. Many nurses in this field serve as healthcare educators, educating patients directly or indirectly. From there, professionals in this field carefully track and study the results of educational efforts and policy changes to look for impacts on population health.

What Is Community Health?

Community health workers seek to understand the health of a community by studying the metrics for disease transmission and other population changes over time. With the data and insights gained from this research, policy makers and health industry leaders can make the necessary changes and develop appropriate strategies. These efforts may significantly improve health for entire populations — groups, such as towns, cities, states, regions, or countries. Within a specific region, public health workers may also look at the health of certain segments of society, such as particular ethnic, age, or neighborhood groups. Community health also tracks epidemics and works to control the spread of disease.

When potential problems are identified, community health professionals develop and supervise interventions designed to address the issues. Historically, this process brought many important quality-of-life improvements that helped reduce disease transmission and improve population health for many people. By the 19th century, scientific advances enabled healthcare professionals to look at population-level health metrics. For instance, efforts to improve access to clean water and indoor plumbing reduced the risk of infectious disease transmission. Political policies, psychological conditions, social problems, economic challenges, and other issues can also influence the health of individual patients and entire societies.

Community Health Nurses

Nurses play a significant role in community health as advocates, educators, leaders, and policy makers. These professionals may work in a variety of public and private settings, such as home health agencies, housing developments, nonprofits, public health departments, colleges, universities, governments, or other organizations. A nursing education provides a solid background in the clinical skills, health knowledge, and theoretical understanding necessary to make significant contributions in these fields. Combining knowledge and drawing on the methodological tools from both nursing and public health, a community health nurse knows how to successfully address the needs of individuals and communities.

A typical workday may involve studying disease epidemic data and looking for trends, planning a public education campaign that will raise awareness about diabetes, running a state health department, or teaching classes about disease prevention.

As a community health nurse, you can build your career around helping patients and local communities. You may study public health methodology, science, and application. The field of community health has a long history of improving health and enabling people to live better lives. As part of its RN to BSN online program, Nevada State College offers a course on community health nursing that helps students understand the role nurses play in community health.

Learn more about the Nevada State RN to BSN online program.


Sources:

Medscape: Evolving Public Health Nursing Roles

Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services: Role of Public Health Nurses

Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow: Public Health Nurse

ASPPH: Study – Community Health

ExploreHealthCareers.org: Public Health Nurse


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