From diabetes education to cardiac rehabilitation to wound management, primary health care nurses can have a significant impact on the health of their community. Unfortunately, working in an acute care setting, I often see the negative consequences which can result from poor access to or lack of prioritisation of primary health care.
The importance of health promotion activities, regularly initiated and run by primary health care nurses, has been highlighted to me numerous times within my short experience in nursing. It’s the person with coronary artery disease who does not know their smoking is contributing to their condition that we need to reach. It’s the diabetic with poor blood glucose control that needs education. It’s the young mother struggling with breast feeding who needs support. It’s the overweight teenager who needs information and a safe place to talk. This is when primary health care nurses, and the entire multidisciplinary team, can make the biggest difference. Intervention in any of these cases can prevent long term complications and enhance quality of life.
However, the despite the efforts and dedication of these nurses, there are still members of the community who miss crucial messages or cannot access critical education programs. Primary health care nursing often remains under prioritised, under resourced and is given little recognition for the vital role it plays in keeping community members safe and healthy. The first step, in my opinion, to changing this, is for those nurses working in other areas, such as acute or critical care, to acknowledge the importance of primary health care nurses and the vital role they play within our health system.