Community Health Nursing
There are many fields in which a registered nurse can specialize. One group of these fields is known as Community Health Nursing. This field includes Public Health Nursing, School Nursing, and Home Health Nursing. Each specialization has its own unique variations of the nursing profession and the nurse has to focus on varying topics depending on which specialization he or she chooses; as well as the education needed to be proficient in each field.
Public Health Nursing focuses on disease, and prevention there of, within the community. The panel can consist of either a single nurse or a group of nurses collaborating together. Public health nurses act as a sort of “liason” between the people and the powers to be, to translate medical practices to the everyday “lay” person and to be the advocate of the people. The Public health nurse has a great deal of responsibility in that his or her goal is to improve the lives of the people within the community. They not only have to try to prevent disease, but they have to try to guide policy makers in developing the best plans for the people of that community. Public health nurses must be well versed in anti-terrorism and bio-chemical warfare. The increasing threat of these attacks demands their full attention. These nurses must collaborate with the local community as well as nationally to provide a safe environment and to prevent a hysteria should such an event arise. The certification, established in 1980, requires that the nurse have a Bachelor’s degree and have at least two years of experience. The nurse must pass a written exam to be officially certified.
Public nealth nurses have to have at minimum an Associates degree in Nursing, although many communities prefer a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. All places within the United States require that the nurse has obtained licensure within the state in which they are practicing. Although a nurse may obtain on the job training for public health nursing, there is an official certification for this specialty.
Public health nurses would make house calls since the beginning of nursing. They would visit the sick and dying in the home. The nurses would help patients who had recently been discharged from the hospital with their daily and medical needs. These nurses would then be able to provide feedback to the policy makers and the physicians on the results and outcomes of the procedures or the ailments that afflicted the patients. This has been occurring since the late 1800’s, established by Florence Nightengale. However, public health nurses recently came to the conclusion that this field should be more of a specialized group of nurses. Behold, the home health nurse.
Home health nurses are an extraordinary group of specialized nurses. These individuals travel, sometimes great distances, to the home of the patients and their families. These nurses strive to help the patient maintain their dignity and privacy. Home health nurses focus greatly on quality of life, including palliative care. These nurses have a great deal of responsibility put upon their backs due to their autonomy. The fact that they must work alone with the families and try to maintain a collaborative workforce without supportive presence can be very difficult. These nurses must have a great deal of knowledge to have such autonomy and must know when to pass information on to a physician and must know when to send the patient to see a healthcare provider; as opposed to a nurse in a hospital who generally has physicians watching over them.
Some universities are offering specialized training in home health on a graduate level and recently advanced training has developed. Due to the increase in technology and the ability for patients to have advanced medical systems in their homes, specialized home health nurses are at a great need. These specialties include, but are not limited to cardiac, dialysis, and chemotherapy nurses. For just regular home health nursing, the nurse may request training at the facility in which he or she works to be able to provide post-hospital care to the patient in the patient’s home. Nurses may acquire an official certification through the ANCC. Not unlike the public health nurses, home health nurses may be allowed to have just an Associates degree in Nursing, but many areas require a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Home health nurses must have appropriate licensure of that state and some areas require the specialty certification of home health nursing.
Another field of nursing is the school nurse. School nurses are much like public health nurses and home health nurses combined. At first glance, one might laugh at the idea of being a school nurse. Some people might believe that school nurses are not “real” nurses or maybe they presume that school nurses just deal with sick kids all day; or kids that want to be sick. There truly is much more to these nurses than meets the eye. School nurses must manage the health of all the students and faculty alike. School nurses must be up to date with the latest statutes that revolve around vaccinations and treatment of children. These nurses must be well versed on the handling of asthmatics, diabetics, psychological disorders, and many other ailments that the children may be suffering from. On top of being aware of the obvious issues with the students, the school nurse must also be in tune with disaster preparedness in the case of a catastrophic event, whether it be natural or terrorist based. The recent H1N1 pandemic has touched the schools as well. The nurses must collaborate with the school board as well as with public health officials to prevent the spread of the disease and to prevent the closing of the school. If a certain percentage of the students or staff were to become ill, the school would be closed. The nurse must act as a public health nurse in a sense by reaching out and providing education to the staff, students, and the students’ family. Much like a home health nurse, a school nurse must maintain the health of the students and faculty. The school nurse collaborates with the students’ families to help with patient education on the disease process and prevention. The level of education that a school nurse must have is an Associates degree in Nursing. Some states require that the RN with only an Associates degree take additional courses in nursing theory amongst others. Some states also require that the nurse obtains a Bachelors degree within a certain amount of time. Credentialing for the school nurse can be obtained through the ANCC for an SN certification.