Promoters of Preventive Health — A Key Role in Nursing

Nurses have the potential to play a significant role in preventive care by helping people live longer and healthier lives

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Published: Thu 12 May 2022, 9:00 AM

Undoubtedly, caring for the sick is one of the purposes of healthcare. But creating a growing population of sound and healthy individuals is inarguably more impactful. Medicine and healthcare are thus, no longer about only curing diseases; they must prevent diseases.

Throughout history, as societies advanced, medicine and healthcare progressed, and populations exploded, leading to rising disease statistics, a new reality dawned on humanity: we must return to the age-old truth of preventative medicine.

Preventive medicine is not a new concept; on the contrary, it’s in-built and an intrinsic aspect of medicine, and it is the best way to build healthier societies. One of the finest promoters of preventive healthcare are nurses, whose role has evolved through the decades, from focusing on disease management to actively promoting disease prevention. And it’s easy to understand why.

Nurses are central to a patient’s ecosystem. Through the vulnerable period of sickness, a patient exhibits a high dependency on a nurse in all matters. Nurses are the first base, the constant point of contact, and the go-to resource throughout a patient’s journey back to health. They offset patients’ vulnerabilities by always being in close communication.

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that many patients lack the knowledge to navigate healthcare services. They are anxious, stressed, and uncertain about how to seek information about their illness. A nurse’s constant supervision, empathy and guidance opens many avenues for patients to share and unburden their concerns.

Modern-day nurses are trained to educate patients in numerous ways. They use evidence-based information, observation, and insights gained from experience to counsel patients on proactive self-care. Their advisory can range from disease prevention, medication protocols, disease risk mitigation, diet, nutrition, the importance of follow-ups and health plan details and information on services. This educational approach is used for both daycare patients and in-patients, as nurses initiate preventive health discussions, contributing to raising community-wide health awareness.

As they interact across the demographic’s spectrum, nurses are highly tuned to spot high-risk disease patterns in different communities. It is an invaluable skill that promotes preventive healthcare and helps it fulfil its mission of offering medical assistance and an emotional and socio-cultural lifeline to individuals.

In the modern world that facilitates medical tourism and acknowledges multiculturalism as a social staple, a nurse’s innate skill to be sensitive to a patient’s background, culture, and socio-ethnic values is a tremendous asset. It is a core competence that promotes preventive health because cultural norms significantly influence an individual’s attitude to health and beliefs, and understanding them is the key to empowering them.

However, we would not be amiss if we view these contributions by nurses as not just skills but as investments that create a lasting patient-provider trust that transforms a patient’s life. This trust enables patients to cross over from disease to health and keep moving ahead and not looking back.

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