One of my favorite things about the nursing profession is the wide range of career possibilities. Nurses can work in a variety of settings and specialties. One such specialty is community health nursing.
The responsibilities of community health workers are vast. They educate residents through health expos and community classes. They go to patients’ homes, community centers, hospice facilities and to long-term care facilities. They also fulfill roles such as a home care nurse or visiting nurse, public health nurse, hospice nurses, school nurse, community advocate and parish nurse.
These nurses can be found working in agencies like the American Red Cross, Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) and in Nurse Family Partnerships to name just a few. The common thread with all of the different community nurse positions is that they help the public improve their health and maintain healthy lifestyles. They can help prevent hospitalizations through support and education and also assist patients’ transition home from a hospital stay.
These nurses are the backbone of healthy communities. Community health nurses assist everyone in the nation, from the youngest to the oldest, and everyone in between.
Another important role of these nurses is emergency preparedness. In 2002, the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Response Act expanded the expectations of community health nurses so that they could also take on responsibilities of first responders. In the event of a community health crisis, nurses with this specialty would be among the first to respond, develop a plan of action and provide immediate care. Now, in many colleges and schools of nursing, emergency preparedness training is part of the curriculum.
We have healthier communities today because of the tireless efforts of these nurses. Nursing is not a job – it’s a calling. Community health nursing is one very rewarding way for us to be called to serve.
Dr. Christina Silva is nurse and nurse educator who is passionate about preparing the next generation of nurses. She worked as a perinatal staff nurse at Uniontown Hospital, Uniontown, PA 15401, and is a nurse administrator at Herzing University's Akron campus.