In work practice, nurses take up a variety of roles, one of which is that of a health promoter. The World Health Organization (WHO) (n.d.) defines health promotion as a process of helping individuals to gain control over their health and improve it through education and self-management. Thus, today, a nurse should take care of the well insofar as he or she should take care of the sick. This essay will elaborate on the role of a health promoter and its clinical and non-clinical attributes, discuss two relevant studies, and outline the structure of the future interview on the subject matter.
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American Nurses Association (ANA) (n. d.) states that in the era of new medical challenges, nurses have the potential to bring sweeping changes to the healthcare system. ANA uses the term of public health nursing and health promotion interchangeably and defines the concept as helping communities to prevent disease and improve health by using nursing and social sciences. One should note that the organization emphasizes the need to combine hard data and therapeutic communication to develop the most appropriate approaches.
ANA representatives argue that nurses have the opportunity to observe patients, interact with them on a personal level, and influence their lifestyle. By learning communicative strategies, a nurse can explain complicated procedures and treatment plans in a way that a patient understands well. Understanding why something is done is the key to taking control over one’s life and health decisions.
American Nurses Association (n. d.) describes a variety of ways in which nurses can promote public health. One of the methods is vaccines and immunization, which allows for disease prevention instead of disease treatment. In the US, many people believe the common misconceptions about vaccination, and a nurse can debunk these myths. Another measure that a nurse can undertake according to ANA (n. d.) is making a smoking cessation intervention and refer a patient to resources such as Tobacco Free Nurses. One more example is a prompt opioid crisis response by conducting SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment).
In 2013 in Florida, researchers registered 2,623 deaths from prescription drug abuse or overdose, and every tenth of death was caused by opioids (The Miami Coalition, 2014). Admittedly, nurses’ health promotion activities are not limited to those listed above. What they have in common and what can be a framework for future endeavors is spotting a person at risk and educating them.
Public health nursing can help with a variety of problems, and recent studies only support this claim. Oakley, Henderson, Redshaw, and Quigley (2014) had 3,840 women over the age of 16 who gave birth to singletons fill in a questionnaire about breastfeeding challenges. The researchers found out that 13% of respondents stopped nursing their infants in the first ten days. 17% of those who continued breastfeeding after ten days only made it to six weeks. The majority of women stated that they did not want to cease breastfeeding but did not have enough knowledge and support. Oakley et al. (2014) concluded that in 38-56% of cases, premature cessation could have been prevented if a nurse intervened.
Knight, Cole, Dodd, and Oakley (2017) studied the effects of school-based interventions on overweight children in Mississippi schools. The authors argue that the state does little to help students choose a healthy diet and an appropriate exercise routine. Knight et al. (2017) held educational sessions in seven schools with an African-American majority. After nine months, the researches revealed a decrease in BMI scores in five out of seven schools. Five out of seven schools also demonstrated improved PACER (aerobic capacity) scores.
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Future Interview Outline
In Week 3, I am going to interview Mary Linett Ayers (RN, registered nurse), who works as a family nurse practitioner at the University of Miami Hospital. So far, I have come up with the following ten questions that I would like to ask her:
- How do you define health promotion for yourself?
- How do you make health promotion part of your daily practice, given how little time nurses usually have?
- Have you ever used technology for health promotion?
- Have you ever had to share a tough piece of information? What happened?
- How do you spot a person at risk?
- What subtle signs give away prescription drug addiction?
- What do you do about people believing unscientific theories, for example, vaccines causing autism?
- What is your favorite success story?
- Have you ever failed to prevent disease? What happened?
- Have you ever had to promote health to individuals with a mental disability? What strategies did you choose to apply?
In the modern world, where the majority of diseases are well-researched and the primary risk factors are known, prevention should take priority over treatment. Preventive measures increase patients’ quality of life, and health promotion empowers them to make well-informed health decisions. American Nurses Association states that a nurse should use both evidence-based knowledge and communicative skills to counsel patients and explain to them their health risks.
Researching health promotion showed that there is an ample body of evidence showing that a timely health intervention by a nurse can lead to a better health outcome as opposed to the situation where a patient gets none. In the upcoming interview, I plan to ask Mrs. Mary Linett Ayers about practical strategies and interesting cases.
American Nurses Association. (n.d.) Public health nursing.
Knight, K. B., Cole, J. W., Dodd, L. M., & Oakley, C. B. (2017). Effects of a school-based intervention on BMI z-scores and fitness parameters in Mississippi delta children. International Journal of School Health, 4(3), e13793.
Oakley, L. L., Henderson, J., Redshaw, M., Quigley, M. A. (2014). The role of support and other factors in early breastfeeding cessation: An analysis of data from a maternity survey in England. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 14(88).
The Miami Coalition. (2014). Drug abuse trends in Miami-Dade county Florida: June 2014.
World Health Organization. (n.d.). The Ottawa charter for health promotion.