Nurses are crucial frontline workers who care for vulnerable people who often have fatal diseases. Another crucial part of nursing is helping people who need medical resources and other help.
As people age, they deal with health issues such as diabetes and heart disease and sometimes need more than just medical assistance. This is where the role of community nurses creates a critical connection to resources for many people who don’t know how to locate what they need.
Becoming a nurse offers many career options, including hospice nursing, acute care, medical transport, and community health. Nurses can have a flexible schedule that offers part-time, full-time, or as-needed work.
If you love helping people and making a vital difference for entire communities, then nursing could be the right career path for you. It is a highly respected field where job growth is high and there will always be a need for nurses. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the growth of the nursing profession to exceed six percent in the next decade, so there is job safety and many opportunities for various nursing concentrations.
Table of Contents
- 1 What a nurse does
- 2 Becoming a registered nurse
- 3 The importance of community nurses
- 4 The key principles of community nursing
- 5 The community nurse and the elderly
- 6 Elderly assessments
- 7 The community nurse and homeless people
- 8 The community nurse and the disabled
- 9 The community nurse and pregnancy
- 10 Community nurses as advocates
- 11 Community nurses and rural pregnancies
What a nurse does
If you are considering becoming a nurse, knowing the responsibilities can help you choose the best specialization area. The following are the key duties of a bedside nurse, but the role changes when you pursue a graduate degree for a nurse practitioner or another nursing leadership position.
In the nursing profession, there are differences in the roles of specialized units, but all nurses perform the following duties: Nurses assess their patients for physical illness, diseases, or other problems.
These problems can be in the form of mental issues such as depression or paranoia, and they can be economic in the sense that many patients don’t have the basic necessities of life, which can lead to health problems.
Nurses make diagnoses to give a name to the problem. This is often a formal identification of the symptoms combined with the behaviors they observe in the patient. They are responsible for executing the care plan of the medical team, of which nurses are part.
The goal of the care plan is to help the patients get better through strategic medicines, exercises, and nutrition. Nurses are the medical professionals with the closest contact with patients, so they are ideally suited to recommend care plan adjustments. Once a patient is ready to be discharged, the nurse educates the family or caregiver on how to continue helping the patient when they are home.
Becoming a registered nurse
Aside from this medical profession being a crucial part of caring for sick and injured people, you can feel confident that you will have job security and competitive pay.
Nursing also offers many options for working environments. You might want to work in a hospital where no two days are the same, and once you work your required three twelve-hour shifts, you have several days to do what you want.
Other people prefer to work in a medical office, where the days are more predictable and steady. These nursing positions follow a Monday through Friday schedule of regular office hours in which you see a steady stream of patients.
You could opt to work in an urgent care center, where it is not as hectic and unpredictable as hospital nursing, but the variety of patients is appealing to you. Urgent care hours might vary depending on when they are open, but many nurses in this environment enjoy the responsibilities they have working with the rest of the medical team.
You might think becoming a nurse is right for you, but you need some answers to why nursing is a good career. When you are ready for a new career path, an excellent choice to achieve your goal is to earn an accelerated bachelor’s degree from Holy Family University. Their hybrid degree is entirely online, making it flexible enough to suit your work schedule if you choose to continue working as you earn a bachelor of science in nursing. It optimizes your time to get to your nursing goal faster.
The importance of community nurses
Among all the nursing fields, community nurses are an essential lifeline for many people in a certain geographic area. This group of nurses works directly with people in a community, helping them with medical needs, physical needs, and many other needs they have as they live life.
A primary responsibility of the community nurse is educating their patients in many areas of life where they might be struggling. Community nurses strive to promote disease prevention methods while teaching healthy behaviors and habits.
Unfortunately, many people do not have access to medical care or are too afraid to go to the doctor. It is where community nurses can fill the gap for those who need help but don’t know where to turn.
The role of community nurses includes:
- Collecting data on diseases, illnesses, and mental health in a community
- Administering vaccinations
- Educating patients on wellness habits and strategies
- Assess patients for interventions, i.e., drug use, cigarette smoking, etc.
- Identifying domestic abuse
- Providing counseling for patients on a variety of issues
- Assisting patients with accessing resources they might need, such as food pantries, clothing, mental health assistance, and more
- Providing seminars for the community on pertinent topics such as sexual protection to prevent STDs
- Forming strong bonds with many people in the community
A community nurse is similar to the primary care doctors of the past, who knew all their patients and often made house calls. This is an exceptional nursing role for people who love to be hands-on, involved in their patients’ lives, and true difference-makers.
The key principles of community nursing
Community health is a critical part of public health and, as such, has guiding principles that direct how a community nurse should interact with the people who need assistance.
First, community health involves individuals, families, and communities that make up the public sector. The second principle is to have respect for the values, beliefs, and morals that guide an individual or group in the community. Since communities are often made up of diverse people, there will be diversity in beliefs and customs.
Third, caring for a community is a team effort. Therefore, community nursing is a group of medical and other professionals who work to help individuals and families in the community. Fourth, community nurses should be aware of the resources available to help people with medical, food, utilities, rent, living spaces, and other challenges in their daily lives.
Fifth, community nurses should record data that can help public officials make better decisions for the communities they represent. It can include research, documentation, and other data that provide a broad understanding of community needs.
Finally, community nursing is a commitment to care for the health of the public and promote respect for the environment, which supports good health.
The community nurse and the elderly
As a community nurse, you are tasked with helping the elderly population age well. Ensuring elderly people have access to the medical care they need while facing health difficulties, living challenges, and other issues that affect this population group.
A key goal of community nursing is to empower the elderly population to live functional, independent lives as much as possible. As part of a community health team, your job is to understand and treat chronic conditions that can characterize the elderly in the community.
There are often elderly people with no one to check on them, and this is where a community nurse can be someone who ensures the older population has adequate resources to remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Many elderly people have physical problems like heart disease, diabetes, memory issues, and arthritis that need medication oversight and ongoing assessments of their mental health. Older people have a high risk of falling and breaking bones, so you should stay abreast of any trips or falls among your elderly patients.
Another issue with older people is memory issues. Being more forgetful as we age is a normal process, but many older people don’t realize they are forgetting to eat, bathe, or use the restroom. It can produce an unhealthy living environment and declining health.
Encourage your elderly patients to take a walk once or twice a day. Exercise is an excellent way to slow the aging process and improve physical health, especially bone and heart health. Discuss concerns with your patient or their caregiver to recommend ways to combat the problems older people face.
Older people tend to stay inside for most of the day, reducing their social interaction, which can lead to depression and lethargy. You can recommend free activities in the community like reading to elementary kids, volunteering at the food pantry, and other activities that give elderly people a sense of purpose.
Outdoor activities are always good, so suggest that your elderly patients plant a vegetable garden (even a community garden) or a flower garden that they can share with others in their neighborhoods.
Community nursing is just that—focusing on the community and encouraging good health and activities that boost their mood and make them feel useful.
The community nurse and homeless people
In some communities, there are medical teams that travel the streets, treating people with medical needs. This is one aspect of how community nursing helps homeless people.
There are many reasons why people are homeless, but the truth is that they, too, need medical, mental, and physical resources like everyone else. Some communities have nurse-managed clinics where nurses address the physical, mental, social, and emotional needs of the homeless people in the nearby areas.
Providing healthcare in this environment allows nurses to build relationships with many homeless people, giving them a way to refer them to the resources they need. This can be food, shelter, clothing, and toiletries, among other things.
Often, community nurses can get their patients seen at the emergency centers and other medical facilities they would not ordinarily have access to. Sometimes the hindrance is transportation, while for others it might be leaving children behind, so a community nurse should be a knowledgeable resource for solving multiple problems.
The community nurse and the disabled
Community health nurses can work in schools and organizations to help disabled people have access to the resources of essential organizations. Many underserved populations need assistance with school, work, medical help, and more, and among these is the disabled person
The disability might be blindness, deafness, learning disabilities, being wheelchair-bound, or others. Some estimates put the number of disabled people in the US at almost 15%, so many people need help in multiple ways. Co-morbidities such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other physical issues often accompany being disabled, further limiting their lives and options.
The role of the community nurse is to build awareness of the challenges disabled people face and help them find ways to live productive lives. Among the challenges disabled people face are transportation, medical help, and food resources since many cannot work due to their disability.
Another problem that accompanies disabilities is a lack of financial resources. Many disabled people struggle with chronic illnesses like asthma, emphysema, liver disease, and mental health problems like depression and fatigue. More severe disabilities can include multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and paralysis.
A community nurse also helps the caregivers of disabled people since they carry a heavy burden and need helpful resources, too. Community nurses can aid disabled people by putting them in touch with patient advocates who help them locate and travel to medical and dental appointments, procure medications, and meet other ongoing needs these physically challenged people have.
The community nurse and pregnancy
Because community nurses understand and know their population, they are aware that many young and often poor mothers go into pregnancy with other physical issues such as drug use, poor nutrition, and limited resources. Some pregnant women are already managing chronic health problems like heart disease or high blood pressure.
Added to these challenges, many mothers lack access to prenatal healthcare that can offer resources and monitoring for the health of the baby. Some pregnant women are homeless, which causes a host of problems during pregnancy, while others experience a language barrier that prevents them from getting the medical help they need during the pregnancy.
Community nurses as advocates
When community nurses act as advocates for women who have high-risk pregnancies due to various issues, they can help the women with resources that can ease the pregnancy burden, such as food, housing, and medications. Secondly, these nurses are crucial in connecting pregnant women with medical case managers who can assist them in seeing a doctor regularly, finding them jobs, and other ways to manage their health.
A community nurse can help pregnant mothers get medicaid to help with pregnancy costs and connect them with health and addiction services, especially during and right after pregnancy. A nurse can aid them in finding effective, free birth control if needed and educate these new mothers on life skills they might not have.
Some states have programs in which nurses help pregnant women apply for food assistance and access to formula and diapers for their babies. These pregnant women are frequently young and vulnerable with little to no family support, so a community nurse is a lifeline for help.
Community nurses and rural pregnancies
Another at-risk population are those women who live in rural areas and do not have access to quality medical care during pregnancy. Community nurses are uniquely qualified to bridge the gap for these women who live far away from cities and/or hospitals.
Community nurses can deliver prenatal care to pregnant women while also educating them on how to be healthy while pregnant. Many women in rural areas do not have high-quality foods available, so nurses can connect them with resources to eat healthier during pregnancy and afterward.
Many women in rural areas do not have the income to support themselves during pregnancy and need aid for medical visits and medications. They may also experience a language barrier, so the community nurse can be a vital resource for them to get the healthcare they need to birth a healthy baby.
Telemedicine can allow obstetricians to provide care for these women as well as give community nurses a resource for providing prenatal care. Another way community nurses care for pregnant women is through therapeutic communication, where they discuss concerns with the mother, providing support and encouragement.
While healthcare workers are certainly part of the backbone of society, community nurses play a critical role in helping many underserved populations get the medical and other care they need. Without these nurses, there would be a significant gap.
Ultimately, you can take your experience as a community nurse and work at a higher level to effect positive change for entire groups of people.