Nursing professionals occupy a unique place in society because of the level of stakeholder trust they attract and their ability to cultivate relationships with diverse groups of people. In particular, they can serve as a resource person, counselor, and leader in their community. Taking on these roles can be instrumental in enabling nurses to have a transformative impact on society.
As a resource person, the nurse is mandated to impart knowledge to patients and their family members. This enables them to understand their healthcare situation and actively participate in their healing and recovery. In addition, they can provide specific information that allows community members to understand a public health phenomenon. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses were at the frontline of enabling affected patients and their family members to navigate the challenges associated with the pandemic. They can influence policymakers by sharing their experiences and leveraging professional platforms such as the American Association of Nurses to ensure decision-makers and leaders understand society’s healthcare challenges and what can be done to enhance access to affordable and quality care.
Nurses can advocate for health promotion and the adoption of health-seeking behaviors. They can enhance the provision of evidence-based care and ensure they are at the forefront of entrenching positive community reforms. The engagement of nurses in a program provides an opportunity to learn from their change management and understanding of human behavior (Bonham Howe & Howe, 2014). Consequently, they can be a powerful resource in designing and implementing development projects in their community.
Moreover, nurses know strategic management, conflict management, and negotiation. This makes them an asset in local leadership roles where they can transfer these skills to enable their communities to implement health programs that improve the quality of life of their members. They can also enable families to plan lifestyle changes that enhance the adoption of health-seeking behaviors. For example, they have been essential in educating families about the importance of reproductive health and family planning.
Nurses interact with patients at a vulnerable moments in their life. As such, many patients may be inclined to share information about their healthcare situation or another issue. Nurses can leverage the environment of trust to counsel their patients to enable them to make informed decisions (Blonna, Watter & Loschiavo, 2011). In addition, they can educate them on the best coping mechanisms that will enable them to achieve healing and improve their quality of life. For example, nurses who identify the lifestyle of a patient as being the cause of their poor health can counsel them to embrace an active and healthier lifestyle.
Nurses can employ psychological and counseling methods to change behavior and improve mental health outcomes. They can counsel individual patients, their families, and groups. Moreover, they can enable people to overcome challenges associated with improving nutrition, managing stress, and controlling weight. Their counseling activity can be essential in improving public health outcomes, especially in preventive care efforts. Moreover, they are often the first point of contact with victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking. Their counseling effort can be instrumental in empowering victims of these vices to report the case and to seek long-term solutions that protect their safety and well-being.
Nursing naturally lends itself to an industry that attracts and trains leaders. Those who ascend into leadership roles must be able to inspire, motivate and influence their nursing staff and other caregivers to collaborate in providing high-quality care (Glazer, 2013). The COVID-19 pandemic strengthened nurses’ moral authority and influence, giving them more credibility to ascend to leadership roles in their community. For example, nurses can take on leadership roles in community organizations, bringing their systems-oriented decision-making approach to optimize processes and ensure shared goals are realized.
Nurses serve as role models to the people in their community and can leverage their status to advocate for shared values and goals. For instance, many people respect nurses’ opinions on social media and other media platforms. They are experienced communicators who can ensure that public health campaigns and other social change programs resonate with the target population.
To conclude, nurses are reliable professionals who enjoy a lot of trust and respect in society. They can leverage this positive perception and their creativity to impact their community positively. Their work ethic and willingness to put their lives on the line during public health crises continue strengthening their moral authority and influence in contemporary society. They can also be a powerful resource in improving policy-making and legislative processes by sharing their knowledge and insights.
Blonna, R., Watter, D., Loschiavo, J. (2011). Health Counseling: A Microskills Approach for Counselors, Educators, and School Nurses. United States: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Bonham Howe, B. L & Howe, B. L. (2014). The Gerontology Nurse’s Guide to the Community-Based Health Network. United States: Springer Publishing Company.
Glazer, G. L. (2013). Nursing Leadership from the Outside In. United Kingdom: Springer Publishing Company.