During National Nurses Week May 6-12, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) will recognize the approximately 250 public health nurses who work in county health departments and at the OSDH central office in Oklahoma City.
Unlike other nursing specialties, public health nursing works to improve the health outcomes of entire populations rather than just one patient at a time. In many communities, public health nurses are often the first line of defense to prevent illness and injury. Public health nurses are also leaders in improving the quality of care and access to care through health policy advocacy that supports improving the quality of life for all.
This year’s theme for National Nurses Week is “Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence.”
“Nurses are ideally positioned to be the best role models,” said Ann Benson, director of the OSDH Nursing Service. “They are educators and advocates of health and wellness. We want Oklahomans to appreciate the full range of public health nurses’ contributions to their communities.”
Public health nurses lead initiatives to increase access to care and improve outcomes by focusing on primary care, prevention, wellness, chronic disease management and the coordination of care among health care providers and settings. These nurses are even more crucial in helping plan how to expand primary care at community-based clinics in the most efficient and cost-effective ways possible, while recognizing the distinct needs of diverse communities.
“From the beginning of public health’s collaboration with emergency preparedness agencies, our nurses have been critical in responding to public health crisis events that occur in Oklahoma,” Benson said.