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Public health nurses, also known as zone nurses, focus on developing better community based health practices. They do this by focusing on schools and villages in their local area that are underserved and that have vulnerable populations. Among these populations are elderly bedridden patients and primary school students who need vaccinations and other types of health care.
Zone nurses create positive health outcomes in the lives of individuals as well as in the community by improving quality of life, as well as patients’ knowledge of their illness, hygiene and self-management.
The POLHN team interviewed a few of these zone nurses from the Nuffield Health Centre to learn about their experiences. For them, community health plays a major role in their nursing profession. This was the case for Shiva and Asinate, who graduated from the Fiji School of Nursing six years ago with a Diploma in General and Obstetric Nursing program. Both see their healthcare provider role as crucial, and strongly believe that through determination and motivation, they can bring about better health awareness.
Shiva and Asinate’s work varies from day to day. They could be telling a 44 year-old female vegetable vendor at a roadside market to go for a breast cancer screening, advising a 50 year-old man sitting at a bus shelter to have his bone density screening done, or asking a young mother in the village if her children are up-to-date with their immunisation shots. Their work ranges from encouraging a 16 year-old teenager to stop sniffing glue and discussing the harmful effects of nicotine dependency, to holding a heart to heart conversations with a pregnant woman at a community get together about the options regarding natural birth versus cesarean section and breastfeeding. Sometimes they discuss food safety, poison control, dog bites, falls and motor vehicle accident prevention with teachers during school visits. Every day is different!
Shiva and Asinate’s lives as zone nurses are both very challenging and amazing. Their profession is nothing less than a superhero’s as every day they save the lives of hundreds of people and help those who are in need. Let’s just say, not all heroes wear capes!
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