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Global Health Issues and Trends: What a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Should Know

The online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program from The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) readies graduates to make meaningful improvements in health outcomes by evaluating the issues and trends in global and population health. The program’s coursework reflects the evolving healthcare landscape and the critical role of highly educated nurses in addressing these complex health challenges. Here’s what aspiring DNPs need to know about global health.

Introduction to Global and Population Health

Global and population health aim to address the health and well-being of people, communities and societies. Professionals working in this area, like DNPs, must be aware of the factors influencing health, such as social, economic, environmental and cultural determinants.

Understanding these concepts can help DNPs identify trends and implement interventions that enhance the health of communities around the globe.

Current Global and Population Health Trends

Current global and population health trends influencing health outcomes and nursing practice include:

  • Pandemics and infectious diseases. Evolving organisms, infections spreading to previously unaffected populations and treatment resistance are all emerging concerns for health professionals, reports the International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. DNPs need to understand how the spread of infectious diseases impacts healthcare systems, public health measures and patient care. This knowledge can inform preparedness and response strategies and, ideally, strengthen patient well-being and public health.
  • Environmental factors. Climate change is expected to significantly impact the health of many communities, with already vulnerable populations most at risk. From dangerously high temperatures to excessive rains and catastrophic natural disasters, climate change can cause increasing difficulty in accessing food, water and shelter, directly affecting people’s short- and long-term wellness. DNPs should know how environmental changes can lead to or exacerbate health problems and advocate for healthcare measures to counter the impact.
  • Health inequities. Disparities in healthcare access and outcomes are growing among population and global health professionals. These inequities are often linked to social determinants of health and structural racism. Healthcare providers, including DNPs, are critical in achieving greater health equity by screening patients for social needs and connecting them to appropriate support services.

The Role of DNPs in Addressing Global Health Challenges

Global health challenges are complex and present no easy solutions. However, because nurses account for most of the world’s health professionals, they can address these challenges head-on, particularly as they hone their skills and advance their practice.

Staying informed of the latest population and global health issues can help DNP students prepare to provide the highest quality, patient-centered care possible.

How Do Global Health Developments Affect Nursing Practice?

Greater global and population health knowledge enables DNP graduates to devise innovative solutions within their workplaces and for patients.

For example, a DNP-prepared nurse might develop a telehealth program to reach underserved populations affected by chronic diseases. Research and trends may indicate that these populations often do not have adequate or reliable transportation, and connecting virtually may improve treatment adherence and reduce complications. Understanding all the factors contributing to individual and community health can help DNPs create effective clinical practices.

DNPs may leverage this knowledge when consulting and advising healthcare organizations and policymakers on evidence-based approaches to improve healthcare outcomes. An awareness of these health trends also allows DNPs to engage in policy discussions and advocate for practices that align with the needs of diverse populations, such as introducing measures to reduce health disparities.

While some global and population health concerns remain relatively static over time, others continuously evolve, impacting nursing practice, research, advocacy and policy development. DNP students should stay abreast of emerging trends as it equips them with the knowledge and skills to be effective providers and change-makers within their communities and beyond.

Learn more about The University of Texas at Arlington’s online DNP program.

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