I have been amazed at how many area of public life a public health nursing practice may include. With regard to public health I had always thought it had more to do with large scale epidemiology and massive world-wide epidemics but since it was a public discipline had nothing to do with individuals. I was surprised to find that there are nurses involved in all aspects of public health including teaching, research and practice in the areas of biostatistics, Environmental Health, Health & Social Behavior, Health Policy & Management, Infectious Diseases & Vaccinology, Interdisciplinary Approaches, Maternal & Child Health, Public Health Nutrition and even Bioterrorism (CDC Foundation, 2014).
I found the Windshield Survey really interesting. I never knew before how much information you can get from just looking out your car window. When you know what you are looking for though the amount you can learn about a community and the members within it. Although records and numbers are important information allowing a nurse to gain insights into specific problems in a group, it is not until you observe these individuals as they go about living their lives within their surrounding that the numbers truly make sense. (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2014).
The other main area I found particularly interesting was the unit involving Genetics. While I have learned about Genetics before I never focused as much on what the implications are for providing information about specific genes may have for families. For example, telling two members of a couple they both carry the Tay-Sachs gene and what that means in terms of having children seems very difficult to me. From a public health point of view I also worry about genetic engineering and what that will do to immunity for illnesses such as malaria if we wipe out the sickle cell mutation from the human population. I worry about how what may seem to be small changes for the better in terms of health could possibly lead to large, irreversible changes in the entire world population (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2014).
I can see myself involved in a job that involves genetics. It is clear that priorities are being determined as we get closer to the ability to perform genetic engineering and genetic manipulation. A need exists to set policy regarding not only how to rank interventions that will benefit the largest number of people possible but will do so in an ethical manner. It seems that often health care decisions are made based more on financial factors that the good of the people. At the same time, once the ability to alter genetic material becomes possible there are bound to be many people who abuse the technology for money, political gain or a specific, strongly held belief that doesn’t take the majority of people into consideration. While I want to be able to work with people in the environment in which they live, I also understand the importance of policy making and maintaining strict ethical standards that provide protection for people everywhere. Ideally, finding a job that incorporates all these aspects of public health would be a great fit for my interests.
CDC Foundation. (2014). What is public health? Retrieved from
Minnesota Department of Health. (n.d.). What kinds of careers are available in public health?
Retrieved from http://www.health.state.mn.us/pathways/description.html
Stanhope M. and Lancaster, J. (2014). Public Health Nursing: Population-Centered Health Care
in the Community, (8th ed.). New York, NY: Elsevier
Summarize what you have learned regarding the area of public health nursing practice. Which aspect of this profession interests you the most? Why? Can you picture yourself working in the area of public health in the future?