What Is the Nurse’s Role in Community Health?

Nurses role in community health.

Community health is so important that the CDC created a division to address it. The Division of Community Health supports efforts to prevent disease and promote healthy living across the U.S. Central to achieving the DCH’s goal to “make healthy living easier where people live, learn, work, and play” is community health nursing.

Nurses who work in community health must understand health promotion, disease prevention and risk reduction. These nurses concentrate on health threats that affect at-risk populations. These threats include a lack of access to healthcare, infectious diseases, obesity, substance abuse and poor living conditions.

Dealing with these threats often requires a multi-disciplinary approach. An online RN to BSN program can help nurses develop the problem-solving and decision-making skills they need to be change agents in public and community health.

What Is Community Health Nursing?

According to an October 2014 article in Preventive Medicine, “The field of ‘community health’ reflects the needs of the community and exemplifies the best of public health research and methods to achieve the shared goal of improving health.”

The definition of community health and community health nursing is a topic of debate. Some sources use the terms “community health” and “public health nursing” interchangeably. Other sources consider community health a sub-discipline of public health — or vice versa. Often, community health nurses work directly with people, while public health nurses also develop programs. However, in the real world, there is often no distinction.

“Community health nurses are valued for their adaptability and willingness to provide care in many settings, including community health clinics, churches, homeless shelters, and schools,” according to an article in the American Journal of Nursing. “These nurses provide comprehensive care to patients within their homes, at organized events such as health fairs, and at agencies and institutions serving people who have particular health needs.”

Community Health Nursing Skills

Skills required by community health nurses, according to the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, include the following:

  • Analytic assessment skills: Nurses need to analyze the complex challenges that communities face and partner with them to promote health and prevention.
  • Cultural competence skills: Nurses need to understand the assets, values, beliefs, attitudes and strengths of a community in order to promote health and prevent disease.
  • Program planning skills: Nurses must be able to coordinate evidence-based programs.
  • Community dimensions of practice skills: These skills focus on communication and collaboration between nurses and community members.

Nurses who work in community health nursing can help the people in a community reach their full health potential, regardless of race, ethnicity, education, income, location or other social factors. The expertise available in an online RN to BSN program can prepare nurses for the many opportunities to address the health concerns of individuals, families, groups and aggregate populations.

Learn more about Colorado Mesa University online RN to BSN program.


American Journal of Nursing

Division of Community Health (DCH): Making Healthy Living Easier

Evolving Public Health Nursing Roles: Focus on Community Participatory Health Promotion and Prevention

What is "community health"? Examining the meaning of an evolving field in public health

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