In the past decade, women’s roles have evolved. Family patterns and lifestyles have changed due to their increased presence in the labour market. Additional stress, several environmental hazards, and increased awareness have prompted women to focus more on their health and well-being. Some women, as a result, are becoming more responsible and involved in their health care. Others lack the time, resources, or the ability to take care of themselves.
Nurses can play a crucial role in educating women about preventive care and support their efforts in exercising greater respect for their health. Women can be encouraged to develop personal health goals and practices, taught about health and illness, offered intervention strategies, and provided support, counselling, and ongoing monitoring by nursing professionals.
Role of Nurses
The nursing profession is also evolving, and their roles in health care settings are expanding to incorporate direct medical interventions. Family Nurse Practitioners can treat patients, prescribe medications and provide various health advice related to a patient’s physical and mental well-being. Many nursing professionals choose a specialization in women’s health. However, there is a need for greater autonomy to improve access to healthcare facilities at all levels. Changes at the administrative and policy level can make this possible.
Nurses are uniquely positioned as the medical professionals most closely in contact with the patient. They spend more time with patients to directly monitor and evaluate their health. As a result, they are more aware of their health concerns. One of the ways nurses can perform a more significant role in improving health outcomes is by pursuing an advanced degree in nursing in their area of specialization. Most nurses are torn between getting a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) and a doctorate in nursing philosophy (PhD). Both degrees offer career advancement opportunities to their recipients. However, the DNP vs PhD question can be answered by simply evaluating whether you want to get more advanced knowledge on the practical side of nursing or do you want to pursue a career in research.
Contribution to Women’s Health
On this note, let’s look at how nurses can significantly contribute to women’s health.
Personal Health – Raise Awareness
Women use the health care system more frequently than men, not only for themselves but also for their children. Therefore, raising awareness among them regarding their health is crucial because only if they are healthy can they look after everyone else.
Many women become pregnant, give birth, and then become their child’s primary caretaker, a major responsibility that impacts the health of households. Various methods of contraception have enabled women over the years to delay conception and childbearing until well after they have established themselves as professionals. Modern infertility treatments have helped many women unable to conceive of becoming pregnant and have extended the childbearing age for couples well beyond their 40s.
As a result of living longer, suffering more chronic health problems and disability, and lower average household incomes, women are more likely to face geriatric issues and require long-term care. They are more likely to need community resources and state help, such as Medicaid.
Higher Health Risks – Educate women about the health challenges they face
You must be surprised to know that compared to men, women face different health issues and have a higher risk of being diagnosed with certain illnesses. Women die most frequently from chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. One hundred thirty-three million adults suffer from chronic diseases, and half have multiple chronic illnesses. The proportion of women suffering from chronic diseases is 38 percent versus 30 percent for men.
The CDC has estimated that 75% of all health care dollars in the United States go to treating chronic diseases. Therefore, uninsured people have difficulty managing chronic conditions, with women being more likely to lack insurance.
Medicaid Services – how to improve accessibility to care and treatment
In response to the inequities in women’s health coverage, states have increased accessibility by extending Medicaid eligibility to pregnant women and banning discriminatory insurance policies. In addition to expanding existing strategies, the Affordable Care Act opened up new opportunities. And as a nursing professional, you can provide proper guidance to women about the different healthcare options available.
Expansion of Medicare
As per the new healthcare law, uninsured women will gain access to Medicare if their state says they are eligible for it.
Health Benefits Exchange
As part of the Affordable Care Act, states must establish a Health Benefit Exchange (either operated by the federal government or the state or can be in partnership). Consumers can select and purchase health insurance online, enroll in Medicaid, or check their eligibility using the exchanges. By introducing this policy, the US government has significantly eased access to healthcare for uninsured citizens such as women.
Insurance in the private sector
Lastly, women need to be aware of the privileges, such as medical coverage, they are entitled to from their employer’s end. Most under-35 adult women are covered by employer-sponsored health insurance (roughly 57 percent). Twenty-four per cent of these women are dependents on their spouses’ plans, making changes to their spouses’ employment or marital status risky for their health insurance. Incentives under the ACA encourage businesses to provide their employees with health insurance. Therefore, as healthcare workers, nurses can greatly educate their patients about health facilities for which they are eligible.
A nurse is the first medical professional patients encounter, notes their health problems, and reads their test results. As a result, nurses can play a key role in raising awareness and educating women about managing their health issues. They can also inform them about the medical benefits they may be entitled to from their employers and the government.
Despite the advancements in technology, women’s healthcare is still one of those few areas that lack the right amount of exposure because they lack awareness. Healthcare providers, nurses, and other paramedical staff can significantly bridge this gap. We hope that this article helps shed some light on how nursing professionals can contribute to women’s health.