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The Nurse’s Role in Global Health

With over 4 million registered nurses in the United States, nursing is the largest healthcare profession, with RNs playing a prominent role in the industry throughout the country. According to the World Health Organization, there are a staggering 28 million nurses worldwide. Their global presence and numbers makes their impact even more significant. Nurses are involved in every aspect of healthcare services around the world, and for that, they deserve immense appreciation. With these statistics in mind, here is a look at global nursing as it currently stands.

The Nurse’s Worldwide Role

A world without nurses is almost impossible to imagine. Everywhere you turn, nurses are there to provide leading-edge treatments to patients from all walks of life. Nurses work in various settings, including wellness clinics, hospitals, schools, churches and businesses, and they work with people throughout the lifespan.

Why Nurses Matter in Global Health

In many locations throughout the world, there are not enough doctors available to provide the care that people need. Even in the U.S., nurses are often directly in charge of a patient’s day-to-day health. Nurses “occupy a special position as the interface between the health system and the community.” Luckily, there are nurses, and if it were not for them, these individuals would not receive any healthcare services at all. Nurses make a major contribution by addressing various health issues.

Here is a short list of service situations nurses might face:

Control & Treatment of Infectious Disease: Due to frequent global travel practices, our lives and health are interconnected. Nurses are at the forefront of helping control these diseases as they care for patients’ daily needs. As an example, nurses in Peru developed a program with the world’s highest cure rates for drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Birth and Delivery: In various remote or rural areas throughout the world, there is not enough money to pay a doctor to set up a practice. Fortunately, nurse-midwives are excellent in the role of caring for mothers before, during and after childbirth.

Primary Care: Also in rural, remote or poverty-stricken areas, physicians may not be available to provide primary care services, and nurses are there to deliver many of those services that would otherwise be unavailable to the community.

Wellness: Because of increased access to care and a commitment to patient advocacy, nurses can make a big impact on prevention and maintenance of chronic illnesses.

Partnerships and Collaboration

It is wonderful to see medical organizations in various areas of the world collaborate, and nurses are often at the center of these efforts. Here are two examples of innovative and resourceful partnerships:

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the U.S. has created a nursing oncology partnership with an organization in Rwanda. At The Center for Global Cancer Medicine (CGCM), oncology nurses from the U.S. work directly with Rwandan doctors and nurses to “provide care to adults and children with treatable cancers at minimal or no cost to patients.”

Regis College in the U.S. is working with the Haitian Ministry of Health and PIH to address the shortage of nursing education in that country. The Regis Haiti Project has helped 37 nurses so far to graduate with a master’s in nursing with a focus on leadership.

Nurses are leaders who make a positive difference by advocating for health and providing healthcare throughout the world. In many instances, despite their significant contributions across the globe, nurses are treated almost as though they are invisible. They deserve to have a prominent voice when world leaders get together to address health issues and develop national and international policies. They also need access to more resources, such as mentorships, leadership and nursing education. One way of receiving additional education and preparation is through online programs, and an online RN to BSN program is ideal for receiving high-quality education in an efficient way.

People who believe in the value of nursing should remind as many others as possible, as often as possible, about the value that nurses bring to the world. We need to advocate for nurses having a greater voice on the world stage. Their contributions to healthcare are already spectacular, but when they have a bigger platform, who knows how far they can go?

Learn more about the UTA’s online RN to BSN program.

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