Becoming a Public Health Nurse would be one of the most satisfying career options in Nursing Profession for the service-minded nurse who has a little extra patriotism and extra motivation to help the community or the State have a healthy population.
Who can become a Public Health Nurse?
As is the case with any other options in nursing profession, the basic qualification required to become a public health nurse is the normal 4-year degree course in nursing through any one of the affiliated nursing colleges, followed with license and recognition as a Registered Nurse. The number of years put in to the profession also plays an important in taking up the career as Public Health Nurse.
The role of a Public Health Nurse is to ensure that the health of the community at large is in good shape. It is the responsibility of the Public Health Nurse to monitor the health of the community, foresee threats for diseases of mass communication, plan accordingly for prevention of such diseases and also educate the community at large about the benefits of leading a healthy life.
The real challenge for a Public Health Nurse lies in promoting health of the children, adolescents and pregnant women. Educating the people about nutrition, adequate care in hygiene and precautions to be taken at times of calamities such as flash floods or spread of any disease is one of the very essential or prime responsibilities of a Public Health Nurse. He or She has to co-ordinate with other agencies, doctors and community services in maintaining the health of the community at large and the inhabitants of the community.
The role and responsibilities of a Public Health Nurse goes beyond healthcare assistance to a patient in a hospital setting. The responsibilities can be broadly classified into three broad categories – primary prevention, secondary prevention and tertiary prevention.
As a public health nurse, it is essential that adequate steps are taken by the community at large before the threat of any disease affecting the community at large. A flash flood or thunderstorm might be the ideal cause for outbreak of diseases like cholera or other diseases. It need not be just a calamity. Possibility of sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS/HIV are ever present in a community. Teaching the population about the importance of precautions, organizing promotional activities to create awareness among the people and educating the importance of prevention are the activities that come under the purview of primary prevention.
The responsibilities of a Public Health Nurse does not rest with primary prevention. A public health nurse should take all possible precautions and organize for carrying out tests to ensure that the diseases are discovered at an early stage, and the spread of diseases is nipped in the bud. For example, a screening test for colonoscopy will help in discovering whether the patient is suffering from or likely to be affected by colon cancer.
Tertiary prevention is another important thing that a public health nurse should be responsible for. He or she, on discovery of a disease, should provide scope for rehabilitation of the patient and also developing ways and means for management of chronic diseases that include preventive interventions.