As a nurse, it is crucial to remember that diverse populations might be hesitant to receive care within the “traditional” Western medical paradigm, potentially leading to health detriments that would otherwise be easily preventable. Worcester State University’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Public and Population Health program prepares nurses to meet public health needs, including care for specific groups, such as Native American populations.
According to health equity advocates (ABA), tribal populations face significant barriers to health services, have lower health outcomes than other groups and “die at higher rates than other Americans in many categories of preventable illness.”
In recent years, though, public health professionals have worked to improve health equity for Native American populations. Through these efforts, they hope to achieve a more equitable environment for Native American individuals.
Positive Impacts of Public Health Initiatives
There are many examples of how public health initiatives can positively impact tribal populations, such as the CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, partnerships with state health departments on vaccination efforts, helping tribal communities embrace traditional foods, syringe services programs for drug use, and more.
The CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity program allows American Indians and Alaska Natives to contribute some of their learned health remedies to benefit all individuals in public health. In a statement by the CDC, “the indigenous people of the Americas … have practiced the art of medicine and wellness for many thousands of years.”
Over the years, there have been many outstanding inventions within the health and wellness field, such as vaccines. State health departments desire to reach out to tribal communities to ensure more individuals receive standard vaccinations.
Public health professionals also educate communities to practice safe methods when using syringes for various medical situations. Additionally, native populations have been encouraged to reclaim traditional foods to embrace their “identity, history and traditional ways and practices to address health,” explains the CDC.
Ensuring Health Equity Among Tribal Populations
To ensure optimal health equity for Native American populations, it is essential to promote the benefits of the healthcare profession to tribal communities. However, members need to know the culture and traditions of their tribal communities are being honored. This respect helps individuals feel more comfortable when addressing healthcare needs.
The Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states, “a public health model for tribal communities should consider the importance of culture, language, issues of identity and place, and the need for tribal people to operate in both traditional and dominant cultures.” It’s easy to understand how cultural barriers could lead to dissonance in care. Every patient of every culture wants to be heard by those trusted with their care.
“Practically, what this might mean in one community is that translators are available if needed, cultural practitioners are available if requested, and referrals to both traditional and mainstream services are made. In another community, it might mean that neither Christian [nor] traditional beliefs are given preference, but that both are respected,” SAMHSA adds.
Fostering an inclusive healthcare facility is paramount for all communities to know they “belong.” In addition, it allows specific populations to thrive in the culture they grew up in and receive the care they deserve.
Help Diverse Populations With a Master’s Degree
One way to help diverse communities, such as tribal and indigenous populations, is to further your career and earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Those who enroll in the online MSN Public and Population Health program at Worcester State will improve community-wide health initiatives by sharing their unique nursing expertise and perspective.
Students will become equipped with cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research to lead sustainable change in public and population health practice. The intensive program helps students explore the most relevant issues in today’s large-scale health industry.
For example, the Public and Population Health Nursing Theory and Practice course explores the history of public health and public health nursing, law and ethics, system infrastructure, and health equity and disparities. In the Public and Population Health Nursing Leadership course, students focus on developing leadership strategies related to delivering high-quality, population-based care by the public health system. Students can complete coursework in as few as 18 months, meaning nursing students can kickstart their careers in a desirable timeframe.
Each future graduate will obtain the knowledge and skills required to enter influential roles in healthcare, such as community health program supervisor for tribal populations, nursing faculty, director of clinical services, chief nursing officer, employee health nurse, or program supervisor.