Nurses are ubiquitous, present in every setting that administers healthcare. Experienced not only in taking charge as leaders but also in diagnosing and treating illnesses, family nurse practitioners (FNP) have the knowledge and access to shape patient health.
As an FNP, you can help patients make dietary and lifestyle modifications to achieve their best health. While genetic factors cannot be altered, you can help patients learn to manage the aspects of their wellness that they can control.
Proactively Approaching Health and Wellness
Rural Health Information Hub notes that health promotion and disease prevention put the tools for longevity in patients' hands. The FNP can help broker the education of both.
Health promotion strives to help people make healthy choices. The decisions people make today affect their future health. For example, eating lean meats and fresh produce supports continued health more than daily drive-thru dinners. Working on balance now can help reduce risk of falling as people age. Teaching patients about these choices promotes their own health.
Disease prevention is the other side of the longevity coin. Chronic diseases like diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and various forms of cancer may have genetic predisposition. However, lifestyle plays an important role in their development. There are modifiable risk behaviors like diet, exercise, and tobacco and alcohol use. Disease prevention is about educating patients on the impact risky behaviors can have, then working to help them reduce their risk.
The FNP can help patients make the necessary lifestyle improvements to support their health.
Patients Need Guidance
Health promotion can improve quality of life, per Health Promotion International. A patient who understands the importance of a good night's sleep will function better in all areas of life and notice health benefits. Self-management increases with a solid education about one's personal health needs. FNPs are wonderful resources for helpful tips to aid individual patients.
Dr. Ather Ali and Dr. David L. Katz point out that poor lifestyle decisions and bad habits contribute to premature mortality in the United States. Patients need instruction on nutrition and activity to reduce risk of disease and early death.
Health is also shaped by one's environment. People born into a higher socio-economic class have more access to healthy foods and quality medical care. They have greater opportunity for physical activity.
Rural Health Informational Hub outlines how rural and underprivileged communities are at a disadvantage. In addition to financial disadvantages impeding access to affordable medical care and healthy food, they may have limited transportation to obtain these things. Literacy and language barriers can get in the way, as can cultural norms about health. The population density in rural communities doesn't often justify funding for large programs. Of course, these at-risk groups need the education and intervention the most.
Family Nurse Practitioners Shaping Wellness
Hospital News indicates that nurses are in a unique position, as anyone seeking medical care is bound to interact with a nurse at some point. Helping individuals make educated health decisions or supporting them in pursuing their best health can often have more of an impact than anything else. This is a fantastic way to impart best health practices for both health promotion and disease prevention.
Family nurse practitioners can advocate for the importance of screening and preventative services, helping patients understand why it is necessary to catch disease early. Education about early detection and risk reduction for chronic diseases with strong links to diet and lifestyle choices has great benefits for patients. The FNP can urge patients to mitigate stress because it is detrimental to their health. Nurses can also endorse lifestyle counseling, dietary guidance and improved sleep.
Nurses can work with community members, get involved in volunteer work, and help implement programs for optimal community health, especially in underserved areas. FNPs can also practice healthy behavior to serve as a good example. By finding success with the lifestyle recommendations they would give to their patients, nurses are more likely to emphasize the importance of these healthy behaviors.
St. Thomas University's online course Health Promotion and Disease Prevention equips nurses with the necessary skills to help patients live longer, happier and healthier. In addition to studying evidence-based research and practices to enlighten patients on ways to improve health and reduce disease risk, students also learn how to help patients in populations that most need intervention.
As a family nurse practitioner, you serve as a wellness ambassador and a font of knowledge on how to improve one's health and reduce disease risk. FNPs are assets to every community and can help patients take the first step to better health.
Sources:Hospital News: The Role of the Nurse in Health Promotion
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