Public health nursing

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Today was day one of Public Health Nursing. I have been assigned to a public health clinic in a not-so-nice area that’s not very near-by. But I spent all day in a completely different part of the county learning. And while I still don’t have a good idea of what I am supposed to be doing this quarter while assigned to this not-so-nice area (although the words ‘home visits’ and ‘flu clinics’ have been floating, even looming, over our heads), I spent a large portion of my day learning about how my tax dollars are being spent in my county. They paid for the free “department of health services” commuter mug I got.

Ok, so I am being a little harsh. I did get to learn about a bunch of really amazing programs that are provided for the public completely free of charge. There are a lot of great ways to impact the community. I wish I had known about a lot of these programs before, just knowing that these services are out there is somewhat comforting. It makes me feel like we are actually part of a greater ‘whole’ community, even in such a huge county. Some of the presentations were dry and a bit redundant, but I have to admit, they got their point across, and I learned about what we can do as nurses to help improve the health of our community in so many ways.

We heard from public health nurses all day, but I still feel like we got the cookie cutter version of it. The heartwarming stories that they show in videos that show you “what public nursing is” are sweet, and I have to say, very motivational. I watched it and thought, “YEAH! I wanna to that!” But on the same hand, the thought of visiting a strangers house in this big city to check up on their TB med compliance is freaking me out just a bit.  So – does anyone have any advice out there? What was your public health clinical like?  Are there any public health nurses out there with some wise words of wisdom? Please share and put this student nurse’s mind at ease!

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Ani Burr, RN

I'm a brand new, full-fledged, fresh-out-of-school RN! And better yet, I landed the job of my dreams working with children. I love what I do, and while everyday on the job is a new (and sometimes scary) experience, I'm taking it all in - absorbing everything I can about this amazing profession we all fell in love with.

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2 Responses to Public health nursing

  1. Lori Wagner

    I have been a nurse for the past 25 years. i have never done anything else and I can’t imagine trying anything else. As a child I can remember playing “nurse” and pretending to give my stuffed animals medicine. I feel as if I was meant to be in this profession. I have done private duty nursing, I have worked as a charge nurse in a nursing home and I have worked in an assisted living center. I am currently working in public health as a nurse in an adult detention center. I wanted to try something that was totally different and out of my comfort zone. Being a jail nurse is very rewarding and well worth doing. I never thought I would be doing this, No matter what the inmate may have done, they still deserve healthcare. Top priority is our safety. Any interacting that we have with an inmate is strictly monitored. We always have a deputy present and quite frankly I feel safe with them. Good luck with your endeavors!

  2. Kathleen Vito

    I teach Public Health Nursing and I am sure my students feel the same as you. In clinical we can only give you a snapshot in time of what it is really like. I also work in PH as a CNS in emergency preparedness. I love my work. I do a lot of planning for the “in case of” scenarios and get to work with other professionals in emergency management, law enforcement, etc. Things that I would not have dreamed of before 911, are now my daily concerns. PH is exciting as you never know what is going to happen next in the community be it a disease outbreak or a natural disaster. There is no such thing as a typical day. As far as flu clinics are concerned, these are dress rehearsals for avian flu or other pandemics. H1N1 was mild compared to what it could have been in part due to those public health messages about handwashing, infection control, etc. We had to rely on those measures until the vaccine became available. PH nurses were at the frontlines of it all. Next time you work a flu clinic, ask one of the nurses what was involved to plan it, get the police and volunteers on board to help with crowd control, get the facility’s permission, arrange for staffing and equipment to be at the site, have the vaccine available, the paperwork, etc.Think of all the possible safety hazards to the residents and staff and take steps for prevention, etc. I plan and oversee drive thrus as well as walk ins. Staff development is also my responsibility. Since we use needleless systems, I train the faculty and students who come to help. This is just for one program-Flu. Food bourne illnesses and communicable diseases are others. STD’s, pre-natal and post natal clinics, childhood lead poisoning prevention program are others. There is much more than home visits to TB patients but those are interesting too as you never know what other needs are in the family until you get there. In most states, case management of TB patients is family oriented. Somebody already posted about correctional nursing. School nursing is another specialization within PH. That is also an interesting role-never a dull moment for sure.