The community nurse acts as a teacher and counselor primarily, but also plays an important role in preventing widespread illness and disease in the community she serves. Across the United States and in Great Britain, they're called other names in addition to community nurse, including public health nurse and community health nurse. However, the primary roles remain the same.
Assessing the health needs of a community is the starting point for community nurses. They determine the health needs of families and the community at large, as well as any social determinants that impact the health status of that community. Part of the assessment includes health risks, injuries and disabilities. Once an assessment is made, the community nurse can develop a plan to address the health care needs of that community, given the resources that are available.
A community nurse can improve the health of families and communities through teaching them about healthy lifestyle choices. Educating the public on eating healthy, the basics of looking after their own health and other information is one of the primary responsibilities of the community nurse. It's the means by which the nurse can help prevent illness that plagues the community he serves. There are many educational opportunities for a nurse, including one-on-one or as part of community programs and events. Public-speaking skills and the ability to clearly communicate complex ideas to an audience of varying educational backgrounds is necessary to be successful as a community nurse.
Implementing a plan to improve the health of a community is not enough. Someone must evaluate the results, and that's the role of the community nurse. The nurse is then able to effectively deliver care based on evaluations and tailor the care as needed. Evaluations are also helpful to improve preventive strategies, as well as determining the health trends of the population. The nurse can use evaluations to determine the health priorities for a given area.
A community nurse has a role to play in helping to build the community she serves. A healthy community is a strengthened community, and a competent and compassionate community nurse plays a vital role. To that end, a community nurse is responsible for building relationships and partnerships throughout the community, in order to improve the health of individuals and families. As someone who seeks to help strengthen and build the community around her, the nurse acts as an advocate as well. As an advocate, nurses can ask for additional resources to help the community and make others aware of the health concerns of that community.