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What is a Community Health Nurse?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated May 17, 2024
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A community health nurse is a medical professional whose career is generally focused on providing care to the general public, often in venues that cater to low-income people who have minimal or no health insurance. He often works in medical clinics or for neighborhood health care providers who provide free care to those in need. A community health nurse may work for one facility or offer his services per diem or on an as-needed basis.

In addition to providing basic health care, a community health nurse generally offers his patients advice and other services and options to maintain their health. He frequently refers them to other facilities that can better handle specific issues. These referrals may be to clinics that specialize in areas such as podiatry or pediatrics or to counseling or mental health care organizations. If a patient cannot physically make it to a clinic, a community health nurse may visit the patient’s home to provide care.

The role of educator is often assumed by a community health care nurse as well. He is frequently found talking to individuals and groups on the benefits of healthy living and how to best address common problems, such as substance abuse, obesity and diseases caused by improper food handling or lack of sanitary conditions. Instruction on home nursing and childcare is often provided by a person in this position. If needed, a community health nurse refers patients to sources that are known to provide free or reduced cost medications.

A nurse who is dedicated to community health care is also commonly concerned with the prenatal care available to pregnant women in the area. He is often the main medical advisor for expectant mothers with no medical insurance who have no regular medical doctor to guide them through their pregnancies. In some cases, a community health nurse can use his local contacts and influence to arrange prenatal care for these women.

The elder members of a neighborhood are also a common focus of a community health nurse. He typically helps families find free or affordable accommodations for senior family members in need of rehabilitative or convalescent care. If a home care worker is needed, the nurse commonly assists the family in finding a funded or volunteer agency that can provide the service free of charge.

This nursing position generally requires a bachelor’s degree in nursing as well as a registered nurse license. The majority of community health nursing positions require a master’s degree in nursing as well. Any experience in nursing or medical care is considered an asset for applicants.

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