Community Health has been an amazing learning opportunity and an inspiration for us senior nursing students. Most of our focus this semester has been on the social determinants of health. The social determinants of health are situations in which people are born, grow-up, live, work, and age. Stress, unemployment, lack of education, and poverty are some examples of these social determinants. The health disparities that occur among different populations of people are not accidental. Instead, they are largely influenced by the social determinants of health.
Recently, we were assigned to write papers that required each of us to select a specific community and to explore a health issue that occurs frequently in that population. After researching the issue and the social determinant that is behind the problem, we had to propose solutions that would alter the detrimental effects of the identified social determinant and would improve the health of the community. While challenging, this project as well as the other coursework and community health clinical experiences have been eye-opening.
We have learned that healthcare outside of the hospital is the key to prevention. In fact, if we really want to change the health of communities and consequently our patients, we need to go into those communities and make changes rather than just waiting to treat people when they come to the hospital. This means that, as nurses, we need to do more than just starting IVs, administering medications, and measuring intake and output. We need to look at all aspects of a community and determine what factors are influencing its health and contributing to health inequality. Once we identify the social determinants that are causing the problems and begin develop solutions to help alleviate their effects on the community’s health, only then can we hope to see change. Only then can we hope to eliminate health disparities and bring about health equality and a healthy future for all communities.