St. Joseph’s College
Community-based nursing has a tradition of engaging in social justice activities and advocating for access and equitable health services for disenfranchised populations. Despite ongoing efforts to reform the nation’s health system and improve the health status of our population, prolonged neglect of the public health infrastructure has resulted in increased chronic diseases across the lifespan, prevalent high risk behaviors, and growing health inequalities. This paper will discuss significant roles and activities the community nurse can assume to promote health policies and program development and to improve the health outcomes of vulnerable populations.
Nursing Roles in Policy and Program Development
Community-based nursing practice works toward addressing social, economic, environmental, and other conditions of health that can cause illness or injury with an overall goal of creating healthier living conditions, environments, and lifestyles. In the development of public policies and health programs, community-based nurses must recognize that all public policy effects the health and welfare of vulnerable populations and all public policies are, therefore, health policies. This includes development and implementation of policies for safe schools, safe work environments, early childhood education, clean water and air, access to nutritious foods, urban planning and community development, and access to preventative and standard health care. Due to continuing changes in managed care and federal funding, it is more important than ever that nurses work to provide safe quality healthcare and improve health outcomes in vulnerable populations (Wheeler & Grenier, 2004). Factors that prevent adequate health care in migrant workers include lack of knowledge about services, inability to afford care, limited availability of services, transportation,...