NURS 6710 Week 2: The Role of the Public Health Nurse

NURS 6710: Public Health Nursing Theory and Practice | Week 2

“Our challenge is this: Join with the community to transform an unjust and failing health care system to one that reflects health for all…” (Anderson & McFarland, 2014, p. 376.)

Community transformation, social justice, advocacy, empowerment, large-scale impact, and prevention are just some of the terms used to explain the contributions of a public health nurse. As diverse as the contexts in which they work, public health nurses represent a group of professional nurses who are equipped with specialized training, knowledge, competencies, and skills. The focus shifts beyond just the provision of individualized care to the delivery of care that is informed by expertise in promoting and protecting the public’s health and an understanding of the multiple determinants of health.

This week, you will gain a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of public health nurses and compare the skills and competencies needed by public health nurses versus nurses who focus on delivery of individualized care in more traditional health care settings. You will also examine scenarios specific to the public health nurse.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Compare public health nursing and nursing focused on individualized care
  • Analyze the role of the public health nurse
  • Analyze public health case studies
  • Identify interventions focused on population-level care
  • Identify interventions focused on individualized care

In the first week of this course, you learned that a key distinguishing element of the public health field is its focus on the health and health outcomes of populations rather than the individual. Public health nursing integrates the unique skill set of a licensed nurse with the foundational principles of public health. Public health nursing practice, thereby, extends the focus of care delivery from the individual to interventions designed to enhance the health of populations, communities, and specific aggregates living in those communities. Through educational preparation and experience in both nursing and public health, the public health nurse is prepared to respond to the unique needs of not only individuals, but also families, communities, and populations. For this week’s Discussion, you will explore the commonalities and differences between population versus individual directed practice.

To Prepare:

  • Review this week’s Learning Resources and reflect on any insights they provide.
  • Consider the distinguishing characteristics of the public health nurse experience.

By Day 3

Post an explanation of at least two ways that public health nursing differs from nursing practice focused on individualized care. Then, explain how your role as a public health nurse is informed by skills or expertise that you have gained thus far as a professional nurse.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ responses.

By Day 6

Respond to at least two of your colleagues by expanding on one of the ways they think public health nursing differs from individualized care that you didn’t identify. Explain why you agree or disagree with this difference.

Assignment: Response Paper

Review the following case study scenario that explores the roles and responsibilities of a public health nurse providing care for vulnerable populations:

In a rural, Hispanic community, a health department well child clinic nurse identified a child with an elevated blood lead level. A public health nurse made a home visit to assess the home environment. She discovered the child’s father worked at a job where he was exposed to lead. The father wore his work clothes home every day and his wife washed them with the family laundry. The nurse collected blood samples from the other children in the home. In addition, she gathered dust samples with a small, handheld vacuum. The children had never seen a vacuum cleaner before. They always used a broom and dust rags to clean.

Next, the public health nurse visited the father’s worksite, where she took blood samples from other workers and identified 23 others with elevated blood lead levels. She worked with the reluctant, sometimes hostile, employer to develop worksite policies to protect the workers from exposure and to prevent the lead dust from being transported to the workers’ homes.

The nurse then visited the 23 families and interviewed each about their laundry and cleaning practices. She drew blood samples from family members and collected dust samples from their homes. Many of the children had elevated blood lead levels. The nurse had great difficulty convincing the reluctant families to travel many miles to see a doctor for what appeared to them to be an insignificant illness. The nurse revisited the worksite to assist with implementation of the new policies, ensure compliance and assure medical follow-up for the workers and their families.

For this Assignment, you will explore the roles and responsibilities of a public health nurse in providing care for vulnerable populations in the community such as migrant farm workers.

To Prepare:

  • Review this week’s Learning Resources.
  • Review key concepts of public health nursing practice and interventions in terms of public health’s three core functions and essential services.
  • Review the case study description provided for this Assignment.

The Assignment:

Write a 1- to 2-page response to the case study presented. In your response, provide an explanation of the roles and responsibilities of the public health nurse in providing care for the population depicted in the case study scenario. Identify actions taken by the nurse which correspond to the three core public health functions you learned about in your readings and explain potential interventions that you might propose at the community, family, and individual levels. Then, explain the role a public health nurse would play in the interventions you identified.

By Day 7

Submit your Assignment.

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