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A community health nurse or public heath nurse, is a registered nurse whose focus is prevention over treatment. The well-being of the community served is the community health nurse's primary goal and is achieved through the education of community members on health practices and disease prevention. Dependent on the position held, community may refer to rural, urban, local, state, national or even global boundaries. Community health nurses are employed by nursing homes, substance abuse centers, public schools, homeless shelters, charitable organizations, as well as, local, state and federal governments.
As a community health nurse within the educational system, you can work at the board level to develop programs and services for a school district or within a school. You will promote health and education programs such as tobacco, sexual health, physical activity and healthful eating to the student population. You will also provide direct health to students and staff, caring for bumps and bruises and other ailments, or dispense daily medication for students, as needed. Many schools offer immunization information and clinics, and hearing, vision and dental screenings, which fall within the responsibilities of the school's community health nurse.
Many large corporations and manufacturers have an occupational health nurse on staff. The health and safety of all workers is the responsibility of this position. You will provide health programming and services that promote workplace health, wellness and safety. If need be, the occupational safety health nurse will also provide clinical nursing, first aid emergency care and support to employees on individual health issues.
Many communities offer visiting nurse or home health care services. Visiting nurses provide senior care, help for pregnant women, services for children suffering from chronic illnesses and those recovering from surgery. According to the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, “home healthcare services include assisting those persons who are recovering, disabled, chronically or terminally ill and are in need of medical, nursing, social or therapeutic treatment and/or assistance with the essential activities of daily living.” This nursing option provides for a varied spectrum of duties.
Community Health Center
Community health centers provide medical and clinical services to community members on a sliding fee scale based on income. Multiple services are provided that vary depending on the site including: primary care, counseling services, dental care, women's health, physiotherapy and health promotion and education. As a community health nurse in this setting, you might be called upon to assist with primary care or perhaps be responsible for the case management of patients.