There is a lot of attention on healthcare reform, including reforms in population health. These discussions about transforming healthcare often include the changing role of nurses — for good reason.
Registered nurses (RNs) are, by far, the largest healthcare group of healthcare professionals. As such, RNs have a lot of power when it comes to achieving change. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can prepare RNs to excel in population health.
The online RN to BSN program from the University of Southern Indiana (USI) covers current topics in population health. RNs graduate with advanced skills and knowledge to improve the health and well-being of their patients and their communities.
What Is Population Health?
Population health, along with improving care and reducing costs, is a framework for transforming the nation’s healthcare system. This approach is known as the “triple aim” in healthcare.
The National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP) provides the following commonly accepted definition of population health: “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.”</p
Population health may seem anything but patient-centered. But a population health approach does not mean RNs stop caring for their patients. In “Catalysts for Change,” the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation points out that “nurses are educated to consider health issues within a broad context that includes the social determinants of health.”
Social determinants also affect the health of a population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe social determinants of health as “conditions in the places where people live, learn, work and play.” Poverty, for example, may limit access to healthy foods and safe neighborhoods.
As an ethical standard, RNs are already addressing social determinants that impact health outcomes, including healthcare disparities. For example, lack of access to healthcare is common for rural residents. NACNEP points to telecommunication technology as a way to reduce health disparities and promote better health in the patient population.
Completing an RN to BSN Program Helps Nurses Keep Pace With Population Health
The nursing profession is always moving forward. Just look at how nursing has changed since the days of Florence Nightingale. At the time, nursing was not considered a profession worthy of respect. Today, the nursing profession is held in the highest regard.
Nursing education is a major area of change, moving from minimal training to today’s licensure requirements. Nursing education is always evolving to prepare nurses for new roles like those in population health, for example.
Completing an RN to BSN program gives RNs an opportunity to develop stronger professional skills in areas not typically covered in two-year nursing programs. USI’s RN to BSN coursework, for example, focuses on the knowledge and skills RNs need to shift to a population-based approach.
USI’s RN to BSN coursework covers population health competencies in areas most relevant to nursing practice:
- Population-focused health and professional nursing guidelines
- Population-focused nursing practice to improve the health of a community or population
- Evidence-based practice for high-quality care
- Nursing informatics, such as with data-driven strategies for population health
- Leadership theories, principles and practices, to support RNs in partnering with others to improve patient outcomes
Healthcare is constantly changing, and nurses have a lot to keep up with. A commitment to lifelong learning is a requirement of the Code of Ethics for Nurses. Earning a BSN is an important step in this professional growth. USI’s RN to BSN program prepares RNs for changing roles in nursing.
Learn more about the University of Southern Indiana’s online RN to BSN program.