There is a lot of attention on healthcare reform, including reforms in population health. These discussions about transforming healthcare often include the changing role of nurses — for good reason.

Registered nurses (RNs) are, by far, the largest healthcare group of healthcare professionals. As such, RNs have a lot of power when it comes to achieving change. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can prepare RNs to excel in population health.

The online RN to BSN program from the Nevada State University covers current topics in population health. RNs graduate with advanced skills and knowledge to improve the health and well-being of their patients and their communities.

What Is Population Health?

Population health, along with improving care and reducing costs, is a framework for transforming the nation’s healthcare system. This approach is known as the “triple aim” in healthcare.

The National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP) provides the following commonly accepted definition of population health: “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.”

Population health may seem anything but patient-centered. However, a population health approach does not mean RNs stop caring for their patients. In an executive summary titled “Catalysts for Change,” the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation points out that “nurses are educated to consider health issues within a broad context that includes the social determinants of health.”

Social determinants of health (SDoH) also affect the health of a population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes social determinants of health as “conditions in the places where people live, learn, work and play.” Poverty, for example, may limit access to healthy foods and safe neighborhoods.

As an ethical standard, RNs are already addressing social determinants that impact health outcomes, including healthcare disparities. For example, lack of access to healthcare is common for rural residents. NACNEP points to telecommunication technology as a way to reduce health disparities and promote better health in the patient population.

Completing an RN to BSN Program Helps Nurses Keep Pace With Population Health

The nursing profession is always moving forward. Since the days of Florence Nightingale, nursing was not considered a profession worthy of respect. Today, the nursing profession is held in the highest regard.

Nursing education is a major area of change, moving from minimal training to today’s licensure requirements. Nursing education is always evolving to prepare nurses for new roles like those in population health, for example.

Completing an RN to BSN program allows RNs to develop stronger professional skills in areas not typically covered in two-year nursing programs. Nevada State University’s RN to BSN online program coursework focuses on the knowledge and skills RNs need to shift to a population-based approach. The program’s Caring in Nursing Communities course is particularly relevant as it provides students with knowledge in assessing population needs and community health.

The coursework also covers population health competencies in areas most relevant to nursing practice:

  • Population-focused health and professional nursing guidelines
  • Population-focused nursing practice to improve the health of a community or population
  • Evidence-based practice for high-quality care
  • Nursing informatics, such as with data-driven strategies for population health
  • Leadership theories, principles, and practices, to support RNs in partnering with others to improve patient outcomes

Healthcare is constantly changing, and nurses have a lot to keep up with. A commitment to lifelong learning is a requirement of the Code of Ethics for Nurses. Earning a BSN is an important step in this professional growth, and Nevada State University’s online RN to BSN program prepares RNs for changing roles in nursing.

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