Every student’s responsibility


Louise Goodyear explains how all nursing students can begin supporting public health on their placements

In the first year of my adult nursing degree I undertook a public health promotion module and found it to be a subject that gripped my attention. One factor that interested me was the injustice that leads to so many members of our society being excluded from accessing health care because of life choices that often are out of their control. Social exclusion takes many forms. People who experience deprivation, misuse drugs or alcohol, Gypsies and Travellers, those whose first language is not English – all of these people can be vulnerable and may need additional support.

The health needs of Traveller and Gypsy communities can be neglected

The bigger picture

Making Every Contact Count promotes:  A culture of health and wellbeing.  Skilled and knowledgeable staff.  Staff able to improve their own health and wellbeing.  Visible benefits of health promotion.  Ability to go beyond single issues to see health in a wider social context. Source: Making Every Contact Count toolkit

Public health is relevant for all nursing students, but particularly for adult nursing students. The NHS’s Making Every Contact Count and the Department of Health’s Framework for Personalised Care and Population Health (see resources) exhort all professionals to ensure that every opportunity to promote health is capitalised on.

Nursing students can promote public wellbeing by putting this philosophy into practice in every placement. In 2014 I attended the launch of the Framework for Personalised Care and Population Health, led by Department of Health director of nursing Viv Bennett. She inspired me to look deeper into what public health is and how this needs to be at the forefront of nurse education. Some nursing students may feel that public health is an uninteresting area to work in or promote, but I see public health issues everywhere. On the ward, we are promoting wellness for our

patients, ensuring they are eating a balanced diet and starting a slow rehabilitation so that they can undertake some gentle exercise. We examine their social circumstances, and direct them to relevant services and charities for further support. Such activities are part of our holistic approaches to patient care and help us gain insight into social inequalities and the wider determinants of ill health. Nursing students can incorporate public health into their own daily lives. We can be role models for our patients, while understanding that life does throw challenges our way that can make healthy eating, fitness and mental wellbeing difficult at times. With empathy, our patients may be more likely to take our advice. Public health nursing is my vocation and career path. Making Every Contact Count will hopefully help students to see that they can strive for change in the wider determinants of health and in the social inclusion of patients. By championing public health on Twitter and during my practice nurse placement, I am making a difference for patients. By taking such steps as nursing students, we can have an impact on patients’ lives and on the public health of the nation NS Louise Goodyear is a third-year adult nursing student at the University of Wolverhampton RESOURCES Making Every Contact Count report Making Every Contact Count toolkit Framework for Personalised Care and Population Health

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Student life - every student's responsibility.

In the first year of my adult nursing degree I undertook a public health promotion module and found it to be a subject that gripped my attention...
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