Public health nursing “is the branch of nursing concerned with providing nursing care and health guidance to individuals, families, and other population groups in settings such as where they live, work, play, recreate and go to school.” 1
As a community health nurse in this field, one must have multiple skills across a range of areas, starting off with training as a Registered Nurse (RN), licensed midwife and a Diploma in Health Visiting. The role of a community nurse is so diverse in that it provides motivation towards the core functions of a nurse: as a caregiver, educator, researcher, and mentor for student / newly trained nurses and also as an advocate for patients.
The work involves completing a “community needs assessment profile”, which guides the community nurse in planning and implementing the appropriate health programmes for primary school, preschool, communities and workers in various organizations. Community nurses work independently, interdependently as well as dependently in the administration of immunization and treatment of communicable diseases, maternal and child health clinics, and home visits for the purpose of providing health education and nursing care. The uniqueness about community nursing is that these nurses have continuous interaction with the members of the community from their birth to death. They play a major part in the mobilization of community participation in healthcare related activities and adopt a multidisciplinary team approach with the focus being primary prevention of diseases.
Community nurses typically provide care to patients in a range of places from their homes to common places within the community, and service people with multifarious illnesses. They play a major role in not only treating existing health problems, but also focusing on prevention of disease through continuous screening programmes, self-care management education programmes, thus maintaining their health. By providing constant support to the clients and family members alike, community nurses encourage every community member to maintain their independent, safe, and a healthy lifestyle, whilst also providing assistance and support to carers and family members.
Furthermore, community nursing also extends its support to hospitals by way of following up patients at home, thereby reducing the need for hospitalization.
One of the major challenges faced by both clients and the community nurses is the accessibility to remote rural areas. Despite challenges such as poor road conditions, lack of motor vehicles, and lack of Value Added Tax exemption so as to equip the community nurses with up-to-date vehicles, they continue to provide health care to patients in their homes and communities.