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Nurses are very important in the promotion of good health for a number of reasons. The first reason that comes to mind is that there there are public health nurses whose sole mission is the promotion of public health. They frequently visit people in their communities to educate them on good health practices and to monitor people's health practices. In private medical practices, nurses are often the people who have more time to spend with patients, discussing the patients' health, educating them about their health, showing them how to take care of themselves. For example, a person who is newly diabetic will usually be taught how to inject insulin, how to monitor blood sugar levels, and how to eat properly. When patients call with questions, it is usually the nurse who answers the questions. It is similar in hospitals, as well, with nurses doing many of the same tasks. There are also many home healthcare nurses who take excellent care of homebound patients and the elderly. I should also mention that the role of nurses in healthcare is expanding significantly because of the economy and because of the aging of our population. My guess is that we would have a much unhealthier population if we did not have nurses.
So, I enjoyed the prior response but wanted to add in a different view or perspective. A nurse is not only a nurse and for many reasons that is what sets us apart from the rest if the world. When you have 5 or 20 min with a women who you will probably never see again you need to use every moment you have to educate that person because a lot of times they won't come back. What you say and how you say it has to be in a caring and understanding way not condescending or rushed. Our job as nurses is to educate anyone and everyone as to what we see, know and respect as being part of the medical world. Health promotion can be dropping off a pamphlet to the lady who says she will never read it-bet she will. We are all taught in different ways about what health promotion is and what we should do, but when it comes from a nurse who sits down at eye level and says "I am not going to pretend I know what you're going through because I can't replace your shoes-they were made for your journey and I bet if they could talk would tell a million stories-what I am going to tell you is the same educational compassionate and down to earth knowledge I know in order to make sure we have a plan, you don't feel alone and most of all you understand what is going on with your body. " It's all in the approach. I will live by those words till the end. You can make a bird sing a beautiful tune if you approach it in a certain manner. People are the same way. Once you approach them on a non threatening level, Pandora's box opens and that's what we need in order to best help and educate what we know from our teaching and pass it on as any other profession would pass on their knowledge with one difference.....we have 15 minutes to gain your trust, build a report with you and hope that when you walk out the door the education I gave you to will help you live to see your granddaughter get married or whatever. We have such a short time to make an impact we must know what we are doing or it's another loss to society and a flaw that could have been mended if we gave a bit more energy and a bit more of ourselves. So in short nurses teach health promotion because we get it. We are often first and last to see them for that visit. People may say they don't care or they are not listening, but deep down we are human and we care and so do they.
Health promotion is the essence of our profession. We begin this role and initiate this behavior from the time we take our nursing pledge. Do no harm. One way that we accomplish this is to promote health. As nurses we should challenge our patients and inspire them to do better. In order to accomplish this we must put our words into action. We must show the patient that we are interested in their health by promoting good health ourselves. We cannot expect our patients to listen to our instruction if they sense we are not doing it ourselves. We focus on health promotion because it is important in our quest to deliver high quality care, compassionate care. As a former chronic disease specialist, I educated patients on counting carbohydrates and explained how easy it would be for them to count and log them every meal and snack. Initially, I did not understand why some of them could not comprehend and complete the task assigned to them, to better there health and blood sugar. In my quest to understand this I began counting carbohydrates myself, logging them and assessing my meal plans. I quickly realized the amount of time and effort that went into this each day. After this eye opening experience I realized one thing. If I want to promote health in my patients, I must walk in their shoes and do as I ask them to do. In order to help my patients see the effects of carbohydrate counting I showed them my logs and they understood my empathy and need to help them in promoting their own health.
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