Shadowing a Doctor

May 12, 2016

community nursing

If you want to become a nurse, there are dozens of nursing specialities you could consider based on your skills and interests. If you want to be a nurse who treats communities as a whole, there are plenty of options to consider. Here are two of the most popular:

Community Health Nurse

Unlike most other nurse specialists that treat patients individually, community health nursing serves a community as a whole. Community health nurses play a crucial role in improving overall public health by providing necessary healthcare advice and education and promoting preventive healthcare to the underserved in communities.

You could see yourself working for public health agencies, hospices or home health services. In all settings, you would not be working within the facilities. Instead, you’d go out into the field, providing treatment for a variety of health problems in any age range within a population. The types of issues you would deal with in community nursing are varied, ranging from nutrition education and substance abuse to teen pregnancy, domestic violence and sexually transmitted diseases.

Community health nurses may also play a role in policy making processes – offering suggestions that could help improve the health care facilities available to their community.

Nurses who work in this field often serve segments of the population that struggle with poverty and have little or no resources to turn to for much-needed health care. They make an effort to get to know the communities they serve and study the main health problems arising in that community. Depending on their findings, they educate the population on the diseases that the community encounters most commonly. They also help provide the vaccinations or other measures to prevent these health problems or diseases.

Correctional Nurse

Correctional nursing is dedicated to treating jail inmates. These nurses care for the entire community within any one facility, which includes juvenile correction facilities, detention centres, prisons, penitentiaries and other related facilities.

As a correctional nurse, you’ll often be the first healthcare provider that inmates meet as you will be responsible for conducting and recording each inmate’s physical and mental health assessment before they’re admitted to the facility. Part of your responsibility in this role would include conducting regular sessions with the inmates you are treating. During these sessions, you’ll evaluate their progress, and record your observations.

Nurses do rounds on their patients recording their observations, evaluating their symptoms and progress, charting and reporting anything out of their nursing scope of practice to the medical director or on-site Nurse Practitioner/Physician.

The majority of your tasks will involve attending to acute illnesses or injuries such as infection, flu, and trauma. You’ll also have to treat inmates with chronic diseases, mental/psychological illness, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, detox, cancer, pulmonary disorders and kidney failure amongst others.

The ability to stay objective and not be prejudiced by the inmate’s reason for being incarcerated is one of the most important requirements of this speciality.

As you can see, nursing specialities are very varied! Think you might like this sort of challenge? Why not try one of our Community Healthcare or nursing placements to find out.


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.