While most nurses are charged with the task of helping sick or injured patients get back to good health, a community health nurse focuses primarily on the prevention of disease and illness through education and vaccination. As a community health nurse, you will need the following specialized skills and abilities:
Since your primary job as a community health nurse is to educate the public in order to prevent disease, your ability to communicate effectively is crucial. You will interact with the public on a day-to-day basis in order to provide information about vaccinations for common childhood illnesses, safe sex practices and the prevention of common sicknesses such as the flu. Since some of these topics can be sensitive, particularly among certain age groups, you will need to be able to communicate in a way that is easy for individuals to understand yet effective enough to have an impact on their way of thinking.
A community health nurse must be able to analyze certain situations quickly and effectively in order to come up with the best possible solution. For instance, if a flu epidemic is becoming apparent within the community, you must be able to analyze the risks for certain individuals and come up with the best way to prevent the spread of the illness. This may involve community outreach in hopes of providing flu vaccinations, but it may also involve holding workshops to educate the public about proper hand washing techniques, staying at home rather than going to work or school when they are sick, and wearing a mask when going out simply cannot be avoided.
It is quite possible that you will be charged with the task of working with a particular at-risk group as a community health nurse. For example, you may be given the responsibility of providing sex education to teens; you may also be asked to advocate for immunizations among groups who travel internationally such as businessmen and those who frequently visit relatives in other countries. For this reason, you should develop the interpersonal skills necessary to understand the troubles and stresses faced by these groups, listen carefully to their concerns, and be the voice of authority without being overbearing or insensitive.
Finally, you will need a firm understanding of different cultures to work as a community health nurse, particularly in larger cities and metropolitan areas. Certain cultures are associated with varying behaviors, whether these are social in nature or otherwise, that may have an impact on the health of the entire community. By taking the time to become invested in these different cultures through research or simply by asking questions, you will better understand the ways in which you can intervene and promote better health throughout the community.
A successful community health nurse is one who is compassionate, knowledgeable and always willing to learn. Possessing the skills listed here is very important for being a valuable asset to your community when it comes to their health and well-being.