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Public health profiling prepares nursing students

Jo Brown and Guy Collins explain that simulated practice can prepare students to work in community settings

There was a time when nursing students felt that all care centred on secondary care services.

The new curriculum has evolved to dispel this myth with students having extended placements in the community of up to a year and experiencing the variety of roles that they can undertake on qualification. Embedded in this is their public health role.

As we explain in our article in the July issue of Primary Health Care, classroom promotion of the nurse's role public health may not translate to changes in practice.

There is a need to make this more realistic for students using simulated practice. Having awareness and visiting an area to visualise the health issues that impact on every day life is more powerful to students than classroom based activities.

Building on this by observing the data to support or challenge their findings and make a case for a health improvement reinforces the visual and published viewpoint and looks at the challenges local commissioners face.

This reinforces that the people living and working in those areas are best suited to developing new initiatives to support their client base due to their unique position. Our future nurses are considering health improvement and quality improvement from an early part of their career.

Public health is everyone’s role. Understanding the impact on societal health is essential to nurses being compassionate and caring and aids understanding of the daily challenges encountered and the choices individuals make. This is what simulation in relation to public health and developing our future primary care workforce should focus on.

How our students feel:

'I learnt how important it is as student nurses to access different aspects of public health and how they influence service users. Because of this the practice that we give them can be better suited to their needs.'

'Understanding how the health of the population starts in the community and how it can differ in different communities depending on many factors.'

'Understanding we have the voice as nurses to implement proposals and interventions.'

About the authors

Jo Brown and Guy Collins are senior lecturers, University of Derby

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