Primary health care refers to the medical care that a patient receives on the very first interaction with any system that provides health care. This medical care is provided by a nurse, a doctor or anybody with ideal medical practice. Nurses working in primary health care have general medical training or have been trained to do general work in any doctor‘s room. Other than having a certificate of medical practice such nurses would also require a certificate in basic life support. This paper examines the roles of various service providers in Primary Health Care and further illustrates their general contribution to the overall service delivery in PHC.
The Role of a Nurse in Primary Health Care
The nurse in PHC is held with the responsibility of helping the doctor on various outpatient services. Other related medical roles of a nurse in primary health care include provision of patient care. This is done through activities such as reading vital signs and noting vital symptoms prior to examination by a physician (Worth, 2001, 257-266). A nurse in PHC can also assist patients on telephone by scheduling their appointments or referring them for related emergency services. Such nurses may also oversee the roles of non medical staff within their areas of work. These services may extend to provision of answers related to patient bills and insurance. With the increase in patient numbers and needs, the roles of nurses in PHC may subsequently increase.
Additional roles of a nurse in PHC include liaising with various insurance companies in order to ensure absolute cover of the patient’s medical costs. Other roles may entail the preparation of patient’s prescription. This can also entail working with pharmacists to ensure that the patient’s prescriptions are prepared in good time. Nurses in PHC may also be required to provide both emotional and physical support to the patient. It’s also upon these nurses to help in the elaboration of instructions and prescriptions (Worth, 2001, 257-266).
The Role of a Doctor in Primary Health Care and How they Relate to the General Work in Primary Health Care
A doctor’s visit in primary health care is very vital. This is regardless of the fact that sometimes very little time is spent in PHC. This is an aspect that undermines the development of any meaningful relationships among such doctors and the staff in the PHC. The doctors’ main role is to see patients that have been booked for examination by nurses (Sommers, Martem, Barbaccia &Randolph, 2000). Other roles include teaching the staff in PHC, team work development and enhancing communication. The roles of a doctor in PHC are highly impaired by the limited time available on the schedule of the visits. Their roles are also undermined by improper patient scheduling and the lack of appropriate facilities in the clinics to meet the patients’ diagnostic and general medical care. Their role in assisting primary health care nurses is also impaired by improper referral criteria. Improvement of service provision in PHC would highly be determined by proper scheduling of doctor’s visits and clear communication. Service provision in PHC can also be highly improved with ideal training of nurses by doctors on the same (Sommers, Martem, Barbaccia & Randolph, 2000).
Patients also highly benefit from doctor’s services in PHC. Among them is reduction of travelling costs. Visiting doctors help to cut down the costs that the patients would have incurred in looking for the doctors. Patients also benefit from the comprehensive care they receive on such visits. This also entails resolving undifferentiated problems. Sometimes the clinic does benefit from visiting doctors especially if they bring along their all equipments. Doctors can also benefit the clinic by bringing additional drugs (Sommers, Martem, Barbaccia &Randolph, 2000). Doctors can also help in diagnosis of disease conditions that are difficult. To the hospital, the doctors’ role in PHC helps in reduction of the number of referrals which subsequently help in reducing congestion of patients in hospitals.
How Doctors may Negatively Impact on the Role of Nurses in Primary Health Care
Sometimes visiting doctors would have a tendency of blaming the nurses especially with regard to how they do their work. This is highly related to how they schedule patients and refer them to the doctor. This reduces the nurse’s motivation since some doctors may openly indicate that the nurses do not really know their work which is undermining. Some doctors may also undermine nurses in front of their patients (Cohen, Colantonio & Vernich, 2002, 184-188).The service provision in PHC may also be affected if the patient is tossed around between the nurse and the doctor. This is common if the doctors do not have time to see the patients (Sommers, Martem, Barbaccia &Randolph, 2000).Other doctors may have a tendency of giving a negative feedback about the work done by the nurses. Service provision can also be impaired by the doctors’ lack of understanding of the rules of the clinic. These negative aspects highly demoralizes the nurse and negatively impacts on general service delivery.
The Roles of a Physiotherapist in Primary Health Care and their Impact on General Service Provision in PHC
With regard to general service provision, physiotherapists reduce the work load for other service providers in patient care. This is because patients can be discharged early and subsequently referred to physiotherapists. Their role in preventive health care is also an added advantage to both individuals and other service providers (Glendenning, 2003, 139-151). This is offered through their knowledge on exercises and the entire musculoskeletal system. Various lifestyle diseases can best be managed through change of lifestyles. Such advice can best be offered by physiotherapists unlike other service providers that may never have time to sit and talk with the patients (Carson, Dunbar Chenall & Baile, 2007).Their roles extend to post operative care where they offer advice on exercise and general mobility. Physiotherapists greatly relieve other service providers in PHC by offering services that these service providers especially nurses and doctors may not have time to do (Glendenning, 2003, 139-151).
The Roles of a Pharmacist in Primary Health Care
The primary role of a Pharmacist is centered on dispensing drugs. This basically points to the management of medication in the entire medical care. Among the roles in primary health care include; jointly working with physicians in order to effectively manage the medication needs of patients. To patients, pharmacists provide advice on cost effective medication. To other service providers especially nurses and doctors, pharmacists provide information on the compliance of patients to medication (Cohen, Colantonio & Vernich, 2002, 184-188). Some pharmacists may extend their services in PHC to visiting patients in their homes to provide more information on medication. This may also entail provision of advice to patients previously treated on the use of injectable medication at home. Pharmacists may also provide care directly to small ailments. A vital role of pharmacists in PHC is monitoring the expected side effects of medication administered to patients. For the nurse and the doctors in PHC, the pharmacist offers vital assistance by advising patients on how to take their medication and what to possibly do in the event of a complication. This greatly relieves the other service providers (Taylor, Boyd &Krueger, 2003, 1123-1129).
The Role of Social Workers in PHC and their General Contribution to Service Provision in Primary Health Care
Social workers offer coordinated communication that is essential in general patient care. In primary health care, social workers closely liaise with the patients and their families in order to provide all the relevant information needed to make proper connections (Banyard & Hampshaw, 2002, 24-25).They also help patients and members of the community to identify ideal medical links and connections of importance such as educational facilities and other social amenities. Their role extends further to the provision of counseling services on a variety of related problems. They also offer support to individuals and their families during distress as a result of the disease condition. With regard to helping other service providers in PHC, social workers coordinate transition points in social amenities (Banyard & Hampshaw, 2002, 24-25). These services include relocation of patients, and placement. Their role in support of general service provision in PHC is thus extended to advocacy to community and home care services, provision of counseling, referrals to alternative community health care services and consultation with the rest of the service providers in PHC (Globerman, White & McDonald, 2002, 274-283).This basically relieves the other service providers especially the nurse off additional responsibilities.
The Role of Indigenous Social Workers in Primary Health Care and their Contribution to General Service Provision in PHC
The indigenous health worker plays a vital role in Primary health Care. This is offered through partnering with non indigenous service providers especially the nurse in order to foster complementary skills (Glagow& Yates, 2004, 327-659). This is more felt through enhancing communication skills by acting as interpreters. This is geared at decreasing cultural differences. Such workers also increase educational opportunities to the community members and also provide cultural mentorship. The services provided by indigenous health workers foster both emotional and social support that is required for the healing process of the patient. These workers highly help in general service provision especially with regard to preventive medication where they offer health education to the members of the community in the native language (Tsuyuki, Johnson &Teo, 2002, 1149-1155). This is an aspect that can greatly relieve the nurse if she or he cannot speak the native language.
The provision of ideal services in primary health care is highly fostered by the roles played by the various service providers. The nurse in primary health care is held with a number of responsibilities ranging from initial examination to patient care and referral. The roles of other service providers including doctors, physiotherapists and social workers are jointly coordinated in a way that each individual service provider is of help to the other. The general service provision in primary health care is thus a combination of the roles played by various service providers. How each of the roles is played determines the type of service provided in general.
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