The daily life of a nurse is typically filled with one-on-one conversations with patients, members of medical teams and other members of the immediate community. As the world grows increasingly integrated, there’s a rising need for nurses to look beyond individuals and their immediate surroundings, to take an eagle-eyed approach to healthcare.
From immigration to increasing globalization and remote technologies, there are many forces today propagating healthcare issues from the places in which they originate to other parts of the globe. The COVID-19 pandemic is the most salient example – an infection from one city creating a seismic impact on the health and economies of cities across the world.
Many similar issues are emerging every day, with healthcare delivery in one place increasingly being affected by events in other parts of the world.
In this article, we’ll examine what a global health perspective means for a nurse. We’ll also take a look at the global healthcare issues with the most salient impact on local healthcare delivery. Plus, we’ll also offer plenty of tips for realigning your approach to fit with the growing globalist paradigm of healthcare delivery.
Why is Global Health Important for Nurses?
Many healthcare problems are not bound by national or geographic borders, and these can shape your work as a nurse, from research and clinical activities to best practices and required competencies.
Besides global health issues, there are also many other forces increasing the scope of nursing beyond local communities. Nurses today are much more exposed to globalization compared to generations ago.
Patient populations are also increasingly becoming culturally diverse. Collaborations between multinational teams are yielding more groundbreaking medical discoveries.
A global health perspective does not necessarily add more responsibilities to your plate as a nurse. Rather, it requires reimagining your approach to the same old problems. It requires greater proactiveness, constantly educating yourself about global issues and promoting health policies that can be applied across the local, national, and international levels.
Important Global Health Issues That Nurses Encounter Today
Nurses today need to be equipped with the skills and expertise needed to deal with healthcare issues that are global in nature. They need to broaden their scope, not stopping at the individual patients, but also engaging other professionals, policymakers, and other stakeholders in tackling healthcare challenges.
Some of the most common global health issues that nurses face include:
- Emerging infectious diseases: According to the ODPH report, new infectious diseases are emerging at an alarming rate, with a new disease discovered almost every other day with the potential of spreading rapidly.
- Epidemics: In many instances, emerging infectious diseases spread too quickly for current health systems to contain, quickly escalating into an epidemic or a pandemic. Epidemics are increasingly becoming harder to contain compared to decades ago, owing to increasing international travel, increasingly deregulated supply chains, and other forces of globalization.
- Air pollution and climate change: Pollution and the subsequent environmental degradation and loss of clean spaces affect the health of millions every year, and this figure is set to rise as reliance on fossil fuels and overconsumption continues unabated.
- Maternal mortality: Nurses everywhere also must deal with complicated pregnancies owing to a lack of access to proper care or poor lifestyle choices.
- Health inequalities: Another societal bane that creeps into the health and well-being of communities is inequalities. As a nurse, you have a role to play in helping everyone access adequate healthcare. This requires you to understand the impact that social signals can have on people’s ability to access healthcare, from socioeconomic status to ethnicity, upbringing and even genetics.
4 Tips for Cultivating a Global Health Approach in Nursing
You can improve healthcare delivery by seeing things with a bird’s eye view. The following tips for taking on a global health perspective can help you enhance the efficiency of local healthcare delivery.
1. Start thinking globally
Begin by changing your context from your immediate environment to the world at large. Try understanding the dynamics that affect the quality of healthcare in various parts of the world. In everything you do, always keep the context in mind – know what works in specific areas and why that is.
2. Get more education
A global health approach requires more advanced skills, medical expertise, critical thinking, and communication skills. An advanced nursing program like that of Holy Family University is a great place to start. Here’s why:
- It sets you up on an optimized nursing career path, equipping you with all skills and competencies needed to excel in a globalized world.
- You’ll learn communication skills for facilitating collaborations and critical thinking skills for clinical activities.
- Even more importantly, you’ll come to understand the intricacies of various cultures and learn how to cultivate cultural empathy and cultural awareness.
- You’ll also be introduced to the world of healthcare policies – how they’re shaped and implemented and ways that you can influence them.
3. Cultivate cultural competence
Learn about other people’s cultures at every opportunity you have, whether you’re chatting with patients or work colleagues from different backgrounds, browsing social media or connecting with other professionals at networking events. Get in the habit of learning how common sociocultural issues are seen from different cultural lenses.
4. Stay socially active
Don’t just end all your conversations on personal issues. Try engaging in discussions about policies and social issues that affect your community at large, even though you might feel powerless about those things.
As a nurse, you can make a difference not only in the lives of individual patients but also in your community and the world at large. With a global health approach, you can help pave the way for clinical breakthroughs and policies that affect healthcare in your locality as well as across the globe.