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NURS 6710 Week 1: Public Health Nursing Theory and Practice

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NURS 6710: Public Health Nursing Theory and Practice | Week 1

Examples to illustrate the scope of public health are nearly limitless. Below are a few examples of some of the top public health achievements of the 21st century. These programs, led by public health professionals, have saved hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars. As you review these statistics, reflect on what their impact means for communities and individuals alike. What is the next great public health achievement you might be a part of?

A little girl looks at her vaccination A number of new vaccines were introduced during the first decade of the 21st century. Two of the most significant were the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which has prevented an estimated 211,000 serious pneumococcal infections and 13,000 deaths; and the rotavirus vaccine, which now prevents an estimated 40,000-60,000 rotavirus hospitalizations each year. Other achievements included record low reported cases of hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and chicken pox. Recent economic analyses indicate that vaccinating each child born in the United States in a given year with the current childhood immunization schedule could prevent approximately 42,000 deaths and 20 million cases of disease.
A woman receiving radiation therapy Improvements in screening techniques along with strong cancer screening recommendations have led to improved screening rates and a reduction in deaths of 2–3 percent per year from colorectal, breast, and cervical cancer. In addition, the creation of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program has reduced disparities by providing breast and cervical cancer screenings to uninsured women.
A mother kisses her baby The past decade has seen significant reductions in babies born with birth defects such as spina bifida. This is due largely to folic acid fortification of cereal grain products in the United States as well as public health campaigns encouraging women of childbearing age to make sure they get the recommended amounts of folic acid. These efforts have led to a 36 percent reduction in babies born with neural tube defects.
School children using electronic tablets By 2010, 23 states had comprehensive lead poisoning prevention laws compared to just five states in 1990. Enforcement of these statutes, along with federal laws that reduce hazards in high-risk housing, has significantly reduced the prevalence of lead poisoning. The percentage of children aged 1 to 5 years with elevated blood lead levels has declined significantly—from 88.2 percent in 1980 to under 1 percent in 2008.
A plant employee wearing safety gear Data from CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) surveillance system indicate that the annual number of work-related deaths decreased 28 percent from 1980 to 1995 with a 43 percent decrease in occupational injuries during the same time.

The individuals directly impacted by the conditions mentioned in the examples above are naturally focused on their own personal health improvement and will require the support of health care professionals. However, every individual represents a piece of the larger picture of health. A focus on the population, and not just the individual, allows for large-scale transformation of future health outcomes. Public health professionals address the needs of entire populations and unique subpopulations or aggregates. They collect and analyze the health data of individuals in order to identify trends and patterns that indicate gaps in services and strategic education and communication needs. This informs the development of public health programs, services, and policy that is evidence-based.

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NURS 6710 Week 1: Public Health Nursing Theory and Practice

This week, you begin to examine public health through current public health issues and interventions.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze current issues in public health
  • Identify public health interventions

As a public health nurse, you will likely be asked to explain what public health is and how it differs from the common understanding of health care and nursing. As a public health professional, it is important to understand the diverse areas of public health practice, the historical background of the field, and the current landscape of priorities. For this Discussion, you will explore an area of public health that is of personal interest to you by focusing on various components that help define the health issue from a public health practitioner perspective.

To Prepare:

  • Review this week’s Learning Resources.
  • Consider the perspectives on urgent public health issues shared in this week’s media resources.
  • Reflect on the past contributions made within the field and consider the historical context of current issues.
  • Consider a public health issue you are seeing in your community, country, or even globally, and select one that is of personal interest to you.

By Day 3

Post a brief description of a current issue in public health. Explain how this public health issue emerged, the current efforts to address the issue, and whether the efforts have had any effect on the issue. Then, identify how a nurse with public health expertise may intervene to address the current public health issue described.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ responses.

By Day 6

Respond to at least two of your colleagues by sharing knowledge or experience you may have with the issue chosen by your colleagues or share a public health intervention that is being used in your community to address the issue.


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