National Nurses Week is May 6-12.
During National Nurses Week May 6-12, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) will recognize the approximately 400 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 “Creating a Culture of Safety.” This theme is an important part of the American Nurses Association’s 2016 Year of “Safety 360 Taking Responsibility Together,” an effort to promote and advocate a culture of safety for nurses and patients.
“We want Oklahomans to appreciate the full range of public health nurses’ contributions to their communities,” said Tina Johnson, OSDH deputy commissioner for Community Family and Health Services. “This certainly holds true for many of our nurses who serve as health leaders in communities throughout the state.”
Johnson noted that 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,” Johnson said.
For the past 14 years, the public has ranked nursing as the top profession for honesty and ethics in an annual Gallup survey. Johnson said she is not surprised that the public holds nurses in high regard and trusts them to advocate for patients.
“We would like to encourage students to enter the nursing field, which is projected to be one of the fastest growing occupations,” said Johnson. “The demand for nursing care will grow rapidly as baby boomers enroll in Medicare and help implement changes due to health care reform. Public health nurses are in great demand and we certainly hope more nurses join in efforts of improving population-based health initiatives.”