Nurses Improve Their Communities’ Health Where They Live, Learn, Work, and Play

Meriel McCollum, Christine T. Kovner, Melissa T. Ojemeni, Carol Brewer, Sally Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Nurses are often recognized for their volunteer efforts following disasters and international humanitarian crises. However, little attention is paid to the activities of nurses who promote a culture of health in their communities through local volunteer work. In this article, we describe nurses’ perceptions of how they promote health in their communities through formal and informal volunteer work. Using 315 written responses to an open-ended question included in a 2016 survey of the career patterns of nurses in the U.S., we utilized conventional content analysis methods to code and thematically synthesize responses. Two broad categories of nurse involvement in volunteer activities arose from the participants’ responses to the open-ended question, “Please tell us what you have done in the past year to improve the health of your community”: 17% identified job-related activities, and 74% identified non-job-related activities. 9% of respondents indicated they do not participate in volunteer work. Job-related activities included patient education, educating colleagues, and “other” job-related activities. Non-job-related activities included health-related community volunteering, volunteering related to a specific population or disease, family-related volunteering, church activities, health fairs, raising or donating money, and travelling abroad for volunteer work. Nurses are committed to promoting a culture of health in their communities both at work and in their daily lives. Leveraging nurses’ interest in volunteer work could improve the way nurses engage with their communities, expand the role of nurses as public health professionals, and foster the social desirability of healthful living.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalPolicy, Politics, and Nursing Practice
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Keywords

  • community health
  • health promotion
  • nursing
  • nursing workforce
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects

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