Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Getting to Know a Public Health Nurse

Okay, so when I was first approached about doing a blog on what it is to be a Public Health Nurse, I was excited although a little apprehensive. My name is Keara Biller and I have been a Jefferson County Department of Health and Environment Public Health Nurse for a year and a half. I work in the communicable disease control and immunization programs, and my days are never the same.

I started nursing by doing my requisite years as a hospital floor nurse, but I find myself more mentally stimulated by the job I have now. The human body is an amazing thing, and being the daughter of two health professionals exposed me to this fact from a young age. Nursing fit well with my interest in medicine and helping others; I just had to discover what area of nursing would become my niche. As much as I enjoyed working with patients in the hospital setting, I hated the fact that some of their conditions were, to a degree, preventable. For many, a simple lack of education or access to preventive health care created situations that warranted a hospital stay. Every day I met people who didn’t know enough about diet and exercise. Others had no idea that smoking cessation programs exist to help them. And some were hospitalized because of vaccine-preventable diseases like influenza and Hepatitis B.

I remember seeing a framed quote in a doctor’s office when I was very young…. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Of course at that time I had no idea what the quote meant, but it has now become the philosophy I apply to many areas of my life. If only we could get everyone to think like that, this nation (and world) might be a much healthier place.

Being a Public Health Nurse is an intriguing job. It truly gives new meaning to the saying “Learn something new every day.”