Conventionally, health care systems were focused on the cure of disease instead of the prevention of disease. With today’s evolving health care changes, the shift toward effective prevention techniques is more important. The nurse’s role in preventative health care is to utilize evidence-based research and recommendations to improve the health of patients. Nurses are the catalysts for healthier lifestyles through encouragement and teaching, helping patients to potentially receive preventative services such as counseling, screenings, and precautionary procedures or medications. Nurses can impassion those to engage in healthy lifestyles through education, mentorship, and leadership.
Encouraging Healthiness and Disease Prevention
Nurses working in various venues have a great responsibility in preventative care and wellness. The backbone of the nursing profession has always been recognized as that of a caring profession and one that excels in disease prevention and health promotion. Nurses are strong advocates for patients because they navigate the health care system.
Nurses can work formally or informally as case managers. There are formal roles for nurses as case managers where the nurse's only role is to help patients and families navigate through the health care system. Informally, all nurses work with patients and families to make sure that they receive the holistic care that is needed for optimal outcomes. Nurses work as consultants in communities and organizations to define the health care needs of that population, promoting activities and community development for the citizens who live there. Nurses are most recognized as the primary caregivers of patients in various venues. They are the ones who provide the hands-on care.
One of the most critical roles that nurses have in health promotion and disease preventions is that of an educator. Nurses spend the most time with the patients and provide anticipatory guidance about immunizations, nutrition, dietary, medications, and safety. Nurses are consistently working to prevent illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obstructive pulmonary disease; they do this through a variation of tactics that include education, risk factor prevention, and the monitoring of safety hazards either in the workplace, community, or home.
Nurses are best qualified to take on the job of health promoter due to their expertise. There are few health care occupations that have the high level of health education knowledge, skills, theory, and research to be able to focus on prevention because it is considered part of their professional development focus. Voluntary credentialing is available on a national level in the form of a certified health education specialist from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC). Competencies include health education needs assessment, program planning, implementation and evaluation, research, service coordination, and health educational needs, concerns, and resource communication no matter where the service is provided, such as in schools, communities, and clinics.1 There are also specialties in occupational, environmental, and public health nursing.
Culturally different ethnic groups and subgroups often are particularly challenging and involve extensive persuasion for identification and change in the health behaviors of those individuals, families, groups, or communities. Cultural considerations are needed to help promote programs, and communication is essential in building a relationship of trust and mutual respect.
Cultural diversity requires a sensitivity and awareness that should be mirrored in the phases of planning, design, and implementation of programs and education. Educational programs in the workplace help with both common and unique situations that may occur in an occupational setting and provide resources for future occurrences that may come up. Nurses must ensure that barriers, such as misinterpretation from communication barriers and stereotyping from those who might be viewed as different, do not occur. Skills such as active listening, clarification, and reflection can help overcome and avoid some of these barriers.2
Influence and Education
Health promotion’s purpose is to positively influence the healthy behavior of people and societies as well as the living and working conditions that impact their health. Nurses are best able to perform health promotion tasks by enhancing the quality of life for all people through assessment of individual and community needs, education, identification of resources, and evaluation and implementation of programs to help reduce premature deaths and reduce costs in both the financial and human terms for all entities.
Colorado Technical University offers online nursing degree programs including RN-to-BSN, Master of Science in Nursing, and Doctor of Nursing Practice. Learn more about CTU’s nursing degrees.