Community Health Nursing Roles

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 4
Words: 1025
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College


The two primary nursing disciplines, including Community Health Nursing (CHN) and Public Health Nursing (PHN), play an indispensable role in promoting the population’s welfare. People perceive the two concepts as inseparable and often use them interchangeably. However, CHN and PHN serve distinctive purposes in enhancing healthcare. CHN focuses mainly on examining the overall contributors to the population’s mental and physical health (Rector & Stanley, 2021). Its objective is to encourage policy development and advocacy to eradicate healthcare disparities. On its part, PHN concentrates on scientific processes of preventing infectious illnesses in society. Generally, healthcare experts classify prevention into three categories; namely, primary, secondary, and tertiary (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], n.d.). Community health nurses fulfill seven vital roles in the healthcare setting, such as a clinician, educator, advocate, manager, collaborator, leader, and researcher. These functions help nurses be equipped with various relevant skills, especially with the persistent evolution of diseases and ever-changing healthcare dynamics.

Community Health Nursing (CHN)

CHN refers to the science and art of promoting health, prolonging life, and preventing diseases through the organization of community efforts. Various factors, such as geographical location, among other identification aspects, define a community. According to Rector and Stanley (2021), CHN practice guides it rather than the location of the population. The primary aim of CHN is to improve the welfare of the entire society by educating communities about different illnesses and access to care. This discipline also emphasizes offering direct care, preventing diseases, promoting healthy lifestyles, and strengthening safe practices. Arguably, CHN comprises five components, including assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Some of the areas where CHN is practiced are homes, residential institutions, occupational health settings, faith communities, ambulatory service settings, and the entire community. The presence of diverse environments where community health nurses operate illustrates why it focuses more on practice than location.

Public Health Nursing (PHN)

PHN focuses on promoting and protecting the population’s health using knowledge from social, nursing, and public health sciences (CDC, n.d.). It intends to improve the well-being of all population groups. In achieving this primary goal, public health nurses engage in preventing diseases and promoting health among different population segments to enhance the health of the whole society. A systematic process guides the activities and operations in PHN. Nurses start by evaluating the healthcare needs and planning for the necessary interventions. They later implement the interventions and assess them to ensure they are successful. Finally, nurses use outcomes to influence the current delivery of services by developing local, state, regional, and national health policies. Significantly, the critical principles highlighted in the slide remain essential in harmonizing PHN processes and activities.

Three Types/Levels of Prevention

There are three types of prevention, as highlighted in the introduction slide, including primary, secondary, and tertiary. According to CDC (n.d.), primary prevention refers to interventions utilized to prevent injuries and diseases before they happen. Healthcare professionals such as nurses collaborate with various local, state, national, and regional administrators to implement various measures. For instance, they educate people on safe habits, including risky behaviors that can cause injuries or diseases. Another common primary prevention approach is immunization against infectious illnesses. Some conditions controlled through vaccination include measles, tuberculosis, polio, and tetanus. Specifically, these measures represent the first level of the prevention process.

Secondary prevention focuses on lessening the impact of an injury or disease that has already occurred. Nurses emphasize regular screening to identify illnesses in their early stages. Some conditions, such as cancer, become severe as they advance to the latter stages. Consequently, this prevention aims to detect an illness as soon as possible to halt or slow its progression to the next level (Rector & Stanley, 2021). If possible, nurses advocate for treating the disease before the inception of its symptoms and signs. Examples of measures applied at this level include screening tests and regular examinations such as mammography. Other helpful approaches are modifying work programs to enable employees to return safely to their occupations, eating a balanced diet, and exercising.

The last prevention category is the tertiary level, which involves managing illness after the diagnosis. The primary objective of this stage is to slow or stop the disease progression (CDC, n.d.). It is also essential to moderate the effects of ongoing injuries or illnesses to avoid other complex health problems. Some of the measures utilized include rehabilitation, support groups, screening for complications, and chemotherapy. For example, cancer patients often undergo several chemotherapy sessions to weaken or kill the growing cells. Indeed, tertiary prevention helps improve the patient’s ability to function and prolong his or her life expectancy.

Roles of Community Health Nurses

According to Rector and Stanley (2021), nurses emphasize holism, skill expansion, and health promotion in offering their services. Nurses also teach patients to use the available health information. Using this educator role, they reach a considerably large audience, thus strengthening care delivery. Rector and Stanley (2021) also argue that nurses should guarantee patients’ rights by ensuring they receive humane, just, and equal treatment. They also need to manage healthcare services by planning and organizing operations to meet their clients’ needs. Apart from acting as managers, nurses should fulfill a leadership role by implementing changes based on healthcare dynamics and requirements. They should also collaborate with other stakeholders, such as doctors, social workers, and therapists, to work jointly towards a shared endeavor and strengthen multidisciplinary collegiality. Finally, nurses should conduct studies and apply outcomes in actual practice situations.


CHN is a science and art that revolves around the welfare and health of different communities in a society. Its practice involves a wide range of activities, including educating people, promoting healthy lifestyles, and offering direct care. However, PHN concentrates more on health promotion and disease prevention than diagnosis and treatment apparent in CHN. Further, three primary types of prevention exist, which are defined by the onset of the injury or disease. For example, primary prevention prevents illnesses before they happen. The other two levels focus on slowing or halting the progression of diseases and injuries. Finally, community health nurses complete various roles, including clinician, educator, leader, manager, researcher, advocate, and collaborator, to strengthen the delivery of care.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Prevention: Picture of America.

Rector, C., & Stanley, M. J. (2021). Community & public health nursing: Promoting the public’s health (10th ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.