Nurses play a pivotal role in helping combat and control the spread of disease and illness globally. With people from all different parts of the world interacting more and the ease of traveling for work and pleasure alike, the need for illness containment and patient education is greater than ever before.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic highlighted just how quickly a single disease can spread and have a major impact on the lives of people from all walks of life. In the past, we have been quite fortunate that other serious illnesses have not spread as rapidly or widely.
Making sure patients and the public are aware of how a specific illness spreads and what they can do to prevent infection has a major impact on the rate of spread and infection rates overall. DNPs can inform patients who are seeing them for other issues and help them plan to prevent infection, particularly if they have compromised immune systems or underlying conditions.
Patients who have specific risk factors must be made aware of the importance of taking additional precautions.
Outreach and advocacy efforts with social service and health organizations can be very effective. DNPs can work with various government and non-profit groups to ensure that the public is kept up to date on important healthcare issues.
Healthcare professionals help eliminate false information and rumors from causing harm. Access to accurate information and the ability to ask healthcare professionals specific questions can prevent panic, confusion, and ineffective treatments.
Staying up to date on healthcare trends
The more information a nurse has, the greater the level of care they can offer on a daily basis to all of their patients. Knowing the most common illnesses and diseases to watch out for can result in faster and more accurate diagnoses for patients who may be infected. A more accurate and quicker diagnosis can prevent the disease from spreading further and increase the odds of a positive outcome for anyone who is already experiencing symptoms. Typically, the faster a patient starts receiving the right treatment and care, the greater the chances are that they will recover faster and without long-term consequences.
All outbreaks have to start somewhere. While most are contained fairly quickly or isolated to a region, there are some illnesses that have the ability to spread much further. Mutation of viruses is widespread, which is why doctors recommend that some patients get a flu shot every year. The virus changes, thereby rendering the previous year’s vaccine ineffective at preventing illness.
Controlling the spread
There is a considerable shortage of healthcare professionals, and the problem is set to get worse long before it gets better. Controlling outbreaks and the spread of disease allows more medical professionals to be available to provide care.
Consider the COVID-19 pandemic and how serious the shortages of staff were at many hospitals. If there had been better control of the outbreak, patient loads would not have surged to staggering levels.
Other areas of patient care are often neglected when there is a need to concentrate on a specific illness. For example, a lot of people postponed or skipped preventative care or treatments entirely during the pandemic.
Epidemiology is the study of disease outbreaks, spreads, and trends, and DNPs must have a good understanding of the factors that influence disease spread and the success of prevention efforts.
Environmental factors influence outbreaks and spread
Some types of disease thrive in warm or wet environments, while others thrive in colder temperatures. These factors are why you may see some health problems and diseases more frequently during winter than in summer. For example, colds, flu, and other respiratory problems tend to be worse in the wintertime. Not only are the conditions right for them to thrive, but people are inside in controlled environments with less exposure to the sun and fresh air.
Changes to the climate and increased environmental disasters and weather-related incidents can contribute to outbreaks and access to treatment. A good example of this is flooding. When a lot of water is contaminated and temperatures are high, it can increase the rates of bacterial and viral infections.
The ability to practice good hygiene and the willingness to do so has a major impact on disease and illness rates. Access to clean water and soap can make an enormous difference in disease spread. In areas where this is a challenge, outbreaks may occur at a higher rate, or diseases that are not likely to be found where the exact conditions do not exist may be spread.
Sometimes, when conditions change, outbreaks of health problems and diseases that were thought to be eradicated may occur. This is a situation that is being seen more often as the rates of homelessness and drug addiction rise throughout the country.
Improvements in vaccines and the availability of vaccines for infectious diseases are important. Many problematic diseases have been virtually eradicated through the use of vaccines. This is only possible through vast amounts of research and increasing education and availability regarding vaccines.
Access to healthcare varies
There are barriers that can make it harder for some people to seek out the care they need. Transportation, lack of a primary care provider, and lack of trust are all factors. Some people may be hesitant to seek care if they are victims of physical or psychological abuse. Those struggling with substance abuse or homelessness may be afraid of repercussions if they seek care.
While a lot of steps have been taken to ensure that more people than ever before have access to health insurance in the United States, there are still people who are unaware of how to apply for or use their benefits. In other countries, access to health benefits may vary greatly. Prejudice can also play a role in access to healthcare. People in poorer communities and members of some ethnic groups routinely experience a lack of access to the level of care others may be used to receiving.
DNPs come into the picture here, discovering solutions to improve education and access to care. It is important for healthcare professionals to reach out to vulnerable and underserved populations to educate them and decrease the spread of disease and illness.
One method of providing care that has seen a major increase in popularity recently is telehealth. This allows those who have a hard time fitting in appointments or who have poor access to transportation to conduct a portion of their care via a cell phone, tablet, or computer.
Telehealth is excellent for conducting check-ins when monitoring and treating a variety of health issues, particularly chronic ones. Telehealth can help nurses and DNPs reach more people during the course of the workday, which is extremely helpful when dealing with high patient loads.
Using telehealth can help those suffering from a contagious illness avoid passing it along to others, drastically limiting the spread of colds, flu, and other contagious illnesses. If a person is in a high-risk group, they can take care of some of their visits from the comfort of their home without risking contracting an illness by visiting an office when they are not actually sick.
DNPs and health organizations must work together to address public health concerns. They play a role in addressing healthcare accessibility concerns and problems that are more likely to occur in underprivileged populations.
During times of outbreaks, those on the frontlines must make policymakers and organizations aware of the extent of the issue, so help and resources can be used as efficiently as possible.
Who should consider a Doctor of Nursing degree?
If you are an experienced nurse who wants to take your career to the next level, you might want to consider a DNP degree. There are certificates and certifications that you can pursue as well, but this is the degree that will complete your formal nursing education.
DNPs often work in administrative or leadership roles. If you have considered teaching other nurses, a DNP can help you qualify for university-level teaching positions and research roles. These roles offer more predictable hours and room for professional projects and growth that can help advance healthcare and help more people lead healthier and more productive lives.
Pursuing an online DNP program enables working nurses to advance their careers on a flexible schedule, to balance their current work lives as well as their studies. Spring Arbor University’s online program enables its students to complete their required clinical hours by building them into the curriculum. This allows them to complete the hours at their current place of work or make use of previously accumulated hours.
Strong demand for Nursing Leaders
While all healthcare positions are in demand, many experienced nurses in leadership positions are reaching the end of their careers. Now is an excellent time for mid-career and senior-level nurses to consider stepping into a more advanced position.
DNPs may find positions at several healthcare facilities, including substance abuse and psychiatric care centers.
Potential for higher earnings
Earning your DNP will qualify you for positions that pay a higher average salary and benefits. The region you work in and the area of medicine you specialize in may lead to a much higher salary than average. Psychiatric mental health nursing, in particular, is increasing in demand. As a DNP, you can take on leadership roles and help a variety of people from all walks of life.
Higher level of care
Keeping up with the diseases and health issues that are most pressing ensures that DNPs can provide a higher level of care because issues can be diagnosed more quickly and with greater accuracy. Some diseases are not as well-known as others, and their symptoms may mimic more common conditions. This can result in a false diagnosis or make it take far longer to confirm the true nature of someone’s illness.
DNPs play an important role in educating populations and preventing the spread of harmful illnesses and diseases. By keeping up to date on current disease trends and working toward research to help combat issues, DNPs can keep people safer and healthier in the long term.