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The Role of Nurses in Preventive Health Care

365Healthcare_SocialSharing_notext_11-2015_CareNursesIt’s always better to stay healthy than to suffer illness, and a little prevention can go a long way. Preventive care is not just wishful thinking; this increasingly popular area of the health care sector…works to improve the overall wellness of Americans. Nurses play a critical role in this aspect of health care because they are uniquely prepared for the patient-centered approach that is a hallmark of patient care.


  1. The primary level of prevention involves developing strategies to prevent risk factors and unhealthy behaviors.
  2. The secondary level involves identifying people who currently have risk factors for various diseases, such as heart disease or emphysema.
  3. The tertiary level involves managing illness and disease once it has occurred so that it does not deteriorate or become worse.

What does this mean in real life? Primary prevention could include teaching new parents about car seat safety or teaching patients about the dangers of tobacco use. In secondary prevention, nurses target diseases in the early stages because that’s when they’re most likely to be treated successfully. Tertiary prevention aims to restore self-sufficiency…[by limiting] the complications and disabilities associated with a disease state.

Helping patients help themselves

In many ways, preventive health care boils down to helping patients help themselves. Nurses can help patients work toward a healthy lifestyle, whether the problem is poor eating habits, tobacco or alcohol use or an aversion to exercise.

Nurses can remind patients that preventive health care must be planned and executed ahead of time, even when illness is absent. For the patient with poor eating habits, a nurse may recommend taking healthy lunches and snacks to work as an alternative to vending machines or fast food. A nurse may help a patient who struggles with alcohol or tobacco to find a support group or seek out positive ways to deal with cravings. For a patient who does not like exercise, a nurse might suggest finding fun activities that are active but don’t feel like a chore.

Accessing preventive services

Nurses can also help patients determine what’s available to them through their health insurance. Many people hesitate to go for tests or other screening or diagnostic services because they fear that the cost will be more than they can afford. However, the Affordable Care Act mandates all individual and group health plans offer a list of preventive care benefits with no cost-sharing requirements passed onto the consumer. There is a list of preventive services available at

It’s important to note that, as with nearly every health insurance benefit, there are exceptions, or rather, words of warning. Patients may be billed for the visit, separately from [the] preventive services; that might include a co-pay. In addition, patients may have to pay out-of-pocket for treatments and follow-up appointments…if those screenings reveal a problem.

Preventive care is patient care

At 365 Healthcare Staffing Services, we specialize in the recruitment and placement of healthcare professionals in per diem, travel, and permanent assignments in healthcare facilities across the country. If you are committed to patient care and recognize the importance of preventive care, we’d like to talk with you. Give us a call at 310.436.3650 today.